iScience (2019-09-01)

Intensified Ethylene Production via Chemical Looping through an Exergetically Efficient Redox Scheme

  • Luke M. Neal,
  • Vasudev Pralhad Haribal,
  • Fanxing Li

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 19
pp. 894 – 904


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Summary: Ethylene production via steam cracking of ethane and naphtha is one of the most energy and emission-intensive processes in the chemical industry. High operating temperatures, significant reaction endothermicity, and complex separations create hefty energy demands and result in substantial CO2 and NOx emissions. Meanwhile, decades of optimization have led to a thermally efficient, near-“perfect” process with ∼95% first law energy efficiency, leaving little room for further reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. In this study, we demonstrate a transformational chemical looping–oxidative dehydrogenation (CL-ODH) process that offers 60%–87% emission reduction through exergy optimization. Through detailed exergy analyses, we show that CL-ODH leads to exergy savings of up to 58% in the upstream reactors and 26% in downstream separations. The feasibility of CL-ODH is supported by a robust redox catalyst that demonstrates stable activity and selectivity for over 1,400 redox cycles in a laboratory-scale fluidized bed reactor. : Chemical Engineering; Industrial Chemistry; Chemical Reaction Engineering Subject Areas: Chemical Engineering, Industrial Chemistry, Chemical Reaction Engineering