Novel Membrane Technology for Green Ethylene Production
Clean Technology 2008

Novel Membrane Technology for Green Ethylene Production

U. Balachandran, T.H. Lee, S.E. Dorris, C.G. Scouten, C.L. Marshall
Argonne National Laboratory, US

dehydrogenation, ethylene, membrane technology

Today ethylene is produced (approximately 60 billion pounds in 2005 in U.S.A. alone) by thermal cracking of ethane in presence of steam requiring substantial energy input. The equilibrium conversion is thermodynamically limited. Because of direct contact between carbon and steam significant amounts of carbon oxide and NOx are produced. We have demonstrated in the laboratory a new way to make ethylene via ethane dehydrogenation using a dense hydrogen transport membrane (HTM) to drive the unfavorable equilibrium conversion. Preliminary laboratory experiments have shown the new approach can afford ethylene yields significantly above the thermodynamic equilibrium limit, at high ethane conversion, while completely eliminating production of green house gases. This new approach affords a much simpler product slate and lower the cost.