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Oxidative Dehydrogenation for Olefin Production Utilizes Fluidized Bed Reactors

Technology #94088

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Oxidative Dehydrogenation Produces EthyleneIsobutylene is an Additive in GasolineOxidative Dehydrogenation Produces Olefins
Lanny Schmidt, PhD
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Material Sciences, College of Science and Engineering
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Larry Micek
Technology Licensing Officer 612-624-9568
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Oxidative dehydrogenation process

US Patent 5,639,929
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Oxidative Dehydrogenation Term Sheet [PDF]

Autothermal Oxidative Dehydrogenation Produces Olefins Using Fluidized Beds

Olefins can be produced utilizing a fluidized bed of supported platinum, rhodium, or nickel catalysts. Olefins are produced from a catalytic oxidative dehydrogenation of ethane, propane, and butane. The fluidized bed provides stable temperature control, lower pressure drop, and safer operations. The completely autothermal process is highly energy efficient. Oxidative dehydrogenation produces high conversions and high yields of alkenes from gaseous hydrocarbon feeds. The olefins produced by this method can be used in a variety of commercial markets. Isobutylene is needed for the manufacture of methyl tertiary-butyl ether, an additive in gasoline. Ethylene can be used as the starting raw material for manufacturing many chemicals in the petro-chemical industry.

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Autothermal Oxidative Dehydrogenation is Highly Energy Efficient

Olefins are produced from the catalytic oxidative dehydrogenation of ethane, propane, and butanes utilizing alumina or zirconia beads coated with platinum in a fluidized bed reactor. Ethane reacts rapidly with oxygen in excess hydrocarbon to produce ethylene within milliseconds. This highly efficient process has the potential to replace conventional methods. The abundant supply of light alkanes (methane, ethane, propane, and butane) has led to greater utilization as feedstock rather than fuel. This process is one of relatively few processes available to convert the alkanes into valuable products. Current production of isobutylene and ethylene is based on endothermic dehydrogenation reactions in the absence of oxygen and require a large amount of heat input. Carbon deposition and catalyst deactivation can be problematic with conventional processes. Using platinum as a catalyst, coke formation is totally suppressed.


  • Autothermal--Highly energy efficient.
  • High conversions and yields-- Dehydrogenation of ethane has a >90% conversion and >60% yield.
  • Fluidized beds - Provide stable temperature control, lower pressure drop, and safer operations
  • Olefin products satisfy market need--Isobutylene is used as an additive in gasoline and ethylene can be used as the starting material for manufacturing many chemicals in the petro-chemical industry.