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Engineering >> 2018, Volume 4, Issue 5 doi: 10.1016/j.eng.2018.08.001

Intensification of Ethylene Production from Naphtha via a Redox Oxy-Cracking Scheme: Process Simulations and Analysis

a Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7905, USA
b School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, China

Received: 2017-12-12 Revised: 2018-01-26 Accepted: 2018-08-03 Available online: 2018-08-10

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Ethylene production by the thermal cracking of naphtha is an energy-intensive process (up to 40 GJ heat per tonne ethylene), leading to significant formation of coke and nitrogen oxide (NOx), along with 1.8–2 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission per kilogram of ethylene produced. We propose an alternative process for the redox oxy-cracking (ROC) of naphtha. In this two-step process, hydrogen (H2) from naphtha cracking is selectively combusted by a redox catalyst with its lattice oxygen first. The redox catalyst is subsequently re-oxidized by air and releases heat, which is used to satisfy the heat requirement for the cracking reactions. This intensified process reduces parasitic energy consumption and CO2 and NOx emissions. Moreover, the formation of ethylene and propylene can be enhanced due to the selective combustion of H2. In this study, the ROC process is simulated with ASPEN Plus® based on experimental data from recently developed redox catalysts. Compared with traditional naphtha cracking, the ROC process can provide up to 52% reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The upstream section of the process consumes approximately 67% less energy while producing 28% more ethylene and propylene for every kilogram of naphtha feedstock.












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