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Ethylene Production via Ethanol Dehydration

By Chemical Engineering |

Ethylene is arguably the most important building block of the petrochemical industry, frequently produced via steam cracking of a range of petroleum-based feedstocks. Rising oil prices and concerns about global warming have motivated research into ethylene manufacture from renewable sources. The “green” ethylene made from ethanol (for example, from corn, sugarcane or lignocellulosic biomass) represents a chemically identical alternative to its petrochemical equivalent, and can contribute to the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Ethanol dehydration The polymer-grade (PG) ethylene production via ethanol dehydration process depicted in the figure below was compiled based on a U.S. patent published by BP Chemicals (London, U.K.; www.bp.com; U.S. patent no. 8,426,664). Since 2008, BP has established more than ten patents on this subject. Ethanol dehydration has an overall endothermic equilibrium. The ethylene yield is favored by higher temperatures, while lower temperatures favor production of diethyl ether (DEE). The major process steps are outlined below. Treatment. Fresh ethanol is combined with the recycled ethanol and DEE from the ethylene column and sent to the aldehyde removal column, which removes the aldehydes…
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