(398b) Replacing Steam with Methane in Thermal Cracking Processes
Appropriate kinetics for methane, ethane and propane pyrolysis were selected from different sources in the literature to analyze the process for different operating temperatures ranging from 800 oC to 900 oC; and pressures of 2 Bar to 5 Bar using ANSYS Chemkin Pro. Two feed cases were used in the analyses. The first feed case has composition ratio of 0.795 mole methane, 0.147 mole ethane and 0.058 mole propane. The second feed case has composition ratio of 0.649 mole methane, 0.224 mole ethane and 0.127 mole propane. The compositions of these feed cases are typical of what are obtained from certain shale gas field regions in the United States.
Product distribution results show that methane is essentially an inert in the cracking process and basically serves to reduce the partial pressure of the ethane-propane components of the feed mixtures; thus, validating the novel idea of replacing steam with methane as a diluent. Also, ethylene is the major product obtained from the cracking process for all the cases and sets of operating conditions considered. This is similar to what would be obtained from a typical steam cracker. Required residence times for the process are also in the order of the ones required for the conventional steam cracker. Meanwhile, the process with methane as a diluent is simpler and has the potential for considerable savings in capital and operating costs of a thermal cracking plant compared to steam cracking.
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