Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Argonne breakthrough may revolutionize ethylene production

07.02.2008
Scientists create environmentally friendly technology to produce commonly used compound

A new environmentally friendly technology created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory may revolutionize the production of the world's most commonly produced organic compound, ethylene.

An Argonne research team led by senior ceramist Balu Balachandran devised a high-temperature membrane that can produce ethylene from an ethane stream by removing pure hydrogen. “This is a clean, energy-efficient way of producing a chemical that before required methods that were expensive and wasteful and also emitted a great deal of pollution,” Balachandran said.

Ethylene has a vast number of uses in all aspects of industry. Farmers and horticulturalists use it as a plant hormone to promote flowering and ripening, especially in bananas. Doctors and surgeons have also long used ethylene as an anesthetic, while ethylene-based polymers can be found in everything from freezer bags to fiberglass.

Because the new membrane lets only hydrogen pass through it, the ethane stream does not come into contact with atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen, preventing the creation of a miasma of greenhouse gases – nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide – associated with the traditional production of ethylene by pyrolysis, in which ethane is exposed to jets of hot steam. The world’s ethylene producers manufacture more than 75 million metric tons of ethylene per year, causing millions of metric tons’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.

Unlike pyrolysis, which requires the constant input of heat, the hydrogen transport membrane (HTM) produces the fuel needed in order to drive the reaction. By using air on one side of the membrane, the already-transported hydrogen can react with oxygen to provide energy. “By using this membrane, we essentially enable the reaction to feed itself,” Balachandran said. “The heat is produced where it is needed.”

The new membrane reactor also performs an additional chemical trick: by constantly removing hydrogen from the stream, the membrane alters the ratio of reactants to products, enabling the reaction to make more ethylene that it theoretically could have before reaching equilibrium. “We are essentially confusing or cheating the thermodynamic limit,” Balachandran said. “The membrane reactor thinks: ‘hey, I haven’t reached equilibrium yet, let me take this reaction forward.’”

While Balachandran’s team, which included chemists Stephen Dorris, Tae Lee, Chris Marshall and Charles Scouton, designed this experiment merely to prove the membrane’s capability to produce ethylene, he hopes to extend the project by pairing with an industrial partner who would produce the membranes commercially. Since the membrane reduces the number of steps required to produce ethylene, the technology could enable the chemical to be produced more cheaply, he said.

The results of the research are expected to be presented at the 2008 Clean Technology conference in Boston in June. The work was funded by the Department of Energy's Industrial Technology Program, which resides within its Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.

Steve McGregor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.anl.gov

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Analyzing pros and cons of two composite manufacturing methods
04.08.2020 | University of Illinois Grainger College of Engineering

nachricht New NMR method enables monitoring of chemical reactions in metal containers
16.07.2020 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New Strategy Against Osteoporosis

An international research team has found a new approach that may be able to reduce bone loss in osteoporosis and maintain bone health.

Osteoporosis is the most common age-related bone disease which affects hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. It is estimated that one in three women...

Im Focus: AI & single-cell genomics

New software predicts cell fate

Traditional single-cell sequencing methods help to reveal insights about cellular differences and functions - but they do this with static snapshots only...

Im Focus: TU Graz Researchers synthesize nanoparticles tailored for special applications

“Core-shell” clusters pave the way for new efficient nanomaterials that make catalysts, magnetic and laser sensors or measuring devices for detecting electromagnetic radiation more efficient.

Whether in innovative high-tech materials, more powerful computer chips, pharmaceuticals or in the field of renewable energies, nanoparticles – smallest...

Im Focus: Tailored light inspired by nature

An international research team with Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster develop for the first time light fields using caustics that do not change during propagation. With the new method, the physicists cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses.

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during...

Im Focus: NYUAD astrophysicist investigates the possibility of life below the surface of Mars

  • A rover expected to explore below the surface of Mars in 2022 has the potential to provide more insights
  • The findings published in Scientific Reports, Springer Nature suggests the presence of traces of water on Mars, raising the question of the possibility of a life-supporting environment

Although no life has been detected on the Martian surface, a new study from astrophysicist and research scientist at the Center for Space Science at NYU Abu...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2020”: The final touches for surfaces

23.07.2020 | Event News

Conference radar for cybersecurity

21.07.2020 | Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Forces: The Surprising Stretching Behaviour of DNA

05.08.2020 | Life Sciences

Carbon monoxide improves endurance performance

05.08.2020 | Health and Medicine

How tumor cells evade the immune defense

05.08.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>