Purdue University Graduate School
Christopher Russell Formatted Thesis - final.pdf (832.95 kB)

Impact of Catalyst Composition on Olefin Aromatization in Presence and Absence of Hydrogen

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posted on 2023-05-17, 12:34 authored by Christopher K RussellChristopher K Russell

The expanded production of shale gas has increased the desire for developing methods for converting light alkanes, especially propane and ethane, into aromatic species (i.e., benzene, toluene, and xylene). A multi-step process for conversion of light alkanes to aromatics may be developed, where the first stage converts light alkanes into olefins and hydrogen, and the second stage converts olefins to aromatics. However, to determine the viability of this process, better understanding of the performance of olefin aromatization in the presence of equimolar hydrogen is necessary. 

Previous studies on the conversion of olefins to aromatics with bifunctional ZSM-5 catalysts have concluded that benzene, toluene, and xylenes (BTX) yields are significantly higher than for ZSM-5 alone. These results were attributed to the presence of a dehydrogenation function of Ga or Zn leading to higher rates of aromatics formation. In this study, a highly active, bifunctional PtZn/SiO2 (1.3 wt% Pt, 2.6 wt% Zn) with H-ZSM-5 (Si/Al = 40) catalyst is investigated for propene aromatization at 723 K and 823 K. At low to moderate propene conversions, in addition to BTX, light alkanes and olefins are produced. Many of these may also be converted to aromatics at higher propene conversion while others are not, for example, light alkanes. When compared at equivalent space velocity and propylene conversion, the bifunctional catalyst has a much higher selectivity to aromatics than ZSM-5; however, when compared at equivalent conversion of all reactive intermediates, the bifunctional catalyst exhibits very similar BTX selectivity. At 723 K, for both ZSM-5 and the bifunctional catalyst, the primary non-reactive by-products are propane and butane. At 823 K, both ZSM-5 and the bifunctional catalyst convert propane and butane to aromatics increasing the aromatic yields, and the by-products are methane and ethane.

Additionally, previous studies have investigated the H-ZSM-5 and Ga/H-ZSM-5 in the absence of H2, which is necessary to understand in order to develop a process for the conversion of light alkanes to aromatics. Herein, proton-form ZSM-5 and Ga modified H-ZSM-5 are compared for propylene aromatization in the presence and absence of equimolar hydrogen at 1.9 kPa and 50 kPa partial pressures. At 1.9 kPa, the presence of H2 is shown to have no impact on the product distribution on H-ZSM-5 or Ga/H-ZSM-5. At 50 kPa, H2 is shown to have no significant impact on H-ZSM-5 and has no impact on Ga/H-ZSM-5 at conversions <80%. Additionally, the addition of Ga to H-ZSM-5 is shown to have no impact on the product distribution in the presence or absence of H2, contrary to previous reports. The disagreement with previous literature stems from previous literature comparing H-ZSM-5 and Ga/H-ZSM-5 at equivalent space velocity rather than equivalent propylene conversion despite previous studies showing that the presence of Ga increases the conversion at equivalent space velocity for olefin aromatization. 


Engineering Research Center for Innovative and Strategic Transformation of Alkane Resources - CISTAR

Directorate for Engineering

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Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Chemical Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jeffrey T. Miller

Additional Committee Member 2

Rajamani Gounder

Additional Committee Member 3

Jeffrey P. Greeley

Additional Committee Member 4

Abhaya K. Datye

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