Microwave Enhanced Direct Cracking of Ethane for Production of Ethylene

Developed by: AIChE
  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    April 3, 2012
  • Skill Level:
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Microwave Enhanced Direct Cracking of Ethane for Production of Ethylene

Morgana Fall, Ricardo Bowlin, Holly Shulman

Ceralink Inc.

105 Jordan Rd

Troy, NY 12180

James Carnahan

Edison Analytical Laboratories, Inc.

301 Nott Street, Suite 2

Schenectady, NY

Eric Wagner, Ravi Lal

Technip USA, Inc.

555 West Arrow Highway

Claremont, California 91711


A laboratory-scale microwave plasma system was built and tested to explore the feasibility of direct hydrocarbon cracking from ethane. The microwave plasma system operated at 2.45 GHz in a single mode microwave applicator. The plasma was contained in a quarts tube, which had argon and ethane flowing via mass flow controllers. Under atmospheric conditions, it was possible to obtain a steady microwave argon plasma to which ethane was introduced at regular intervals. Samples were collected from the product stream exiting the plasma zone and analyzed using a gas chromatograph. Results indicated that it was possible to crack ethane and obtain ethylene with high product selectivity. The results of the gas chromatograph analysis for several different run parameters will be presented. The data shows that higher yields of ethylene were possible by reducing the applied microwave power and increasing the flow rate of ethane. The yields from the microwave plasma reactor were compared to results predicted by SPYRO® in a non-microwave reactor operating under similar conditions of temperature and residence time. Application of plasma cracking to commercial scale will be presented as well.




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