Ethane/Ethylene Separation in a Metal-Organic Framework (MOF)

Separation of ethane/ethylene is one of the largest feed stocks in the petrochemical industry with a global production capacity of around 107 million tons in 2016 alone. Because of its prolific need in the petrochemical industry it becomes substantially important to discover ways to make this separation process more efficient to increase yields and to reduce costs amongst the producers. A typical industrial practice to separate ethane/ethylene is the use of cryogenic distillation but this method of distillation is incredibly energy expensive and often requires large distillation columns of around 120 to 180 trays. This type of practice raises concerns about how to further develop and innovate new ways of separation that both lower energy-cost and intensive space usage. University of Texas at San Antonio researchers have developed a new way of separating ethane/ethylene. With the use of a micro-porous metal-organic framework we can attain a preferential binding of ethane over ethylene. With the use of a fixed-bed column packed with this micro-porous material, polymer grade ethylene can be produced from ethane/ethylene mixtures within the first adsorption cycle, revealing its great potential to solve an important industrial separation process with lower energy cost at ambient conditions. Robert Graham (210) 458-8139

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