Oxidative dehydrogenation of ethane to ethylene is an intriguing alternative to steam cracking for ethylene production. The process operates at high temperatures autothermally eliminating the need for a firebox and at residence times 2-3 orders of magnitude faster than a steam cracker leading to a reactor that is orders of magnitude smaller. Carbon formation on the surface does not deactivate the catalyst, but it is thought to reduce the conversion of ethane and selectivity of ethylene. In this work, we have investigated a non-acidic support (silica) and compared it to two acidic supports (alumina and zirconia).
Al2O3, SiO2, ZrO2 foam monoliths with equal pore sizes were used to prepare a platinum catalyst with a loading of 2%. A silica support enhanced both conversions and selectivities significantly giving higher C2H4 yields. Compared to Pt/Al2O3 the conversion increased by up to 3.1%, selectivity by up to 7% for an increase in yield of up to 9%. No deactivation or volatilization of catalyst was observed.
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