Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Environmentally Friendly Technology Can Produce Commonly Used Compound, Ethylene

Date:
February 7, 2008
Source:
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Summary:
A new environmentally friendly technology may revolutionize the production of the world's most commonly produced organic compound, ethylene. Ethylene has a vast number of uses in all aspects of industry. Farmers and horticulturalists use it as a plant hormone to promote flowering and ripening, especially in bananas. Doctors and surgeons have also long used ethylene as an anesthetic, while ethylene-based polymers can be found in everything from freezer bags to fiberglass.

A new environmentally friendly technology created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory may revolutionize the production of the world's most commonly produced organic compound, ethylene.

Related Articles


An Argonne research team led by senior ceramist Balu Balachandran devised a high-temperature membrane that can produce ethylene from an ethane stream by removing pure hydrogen. "This is a clean, energy-efficient way of producing a chemical that before required methods that were expensive and wasteful and also emitted a great deal of pollution," Balachandran said.

Ethylene has a vast number of uses in all aspects of industry. Farmers and horticulturalists use it as a plant hormone to promote flowering and ripening, especially in bananas. Doctors and surgeons have also long used ethylene as an anesthetic, while ethylene-based polymers can be found in everything from freezer bags to fiberglass.

Because the new membrane lets only hydrogen pass through it, the ethane stream does not come into contact with atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen, preventing the creation of a miasma of greenhouse gases -- nitrogen oxide, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide -- associated with the traditional production of ethylene by pyrolysis, in which ethane is exposed to jets of hot steam. The world's ethylene producers manufacture more than 75 million metric tons of ethylene per year, causing millions of metric tons' worth of greenhouse gas emissions.

Unlike pyrolysis, which requires the constant input of heat, the hydrogen transport membrane (HTM) produces the fuel needed in order to drive the reaction. By using air on one side of the membrane, the already-transported hydrogen can react with oxygen to provide energy. "By using this membrane, we essentially enable the reaction to feed itself," Balachandran said. "The heat is produced where it is needed."

The new membrane reactor also performs an additional chemical trick: by constantly removing hydrogen from the stream, the membrane alters the ratio of reactants to products, enabling the reaction to make more ethylene that it theoretically could have before reaching equilibrium. "We are essentially confusing or cheating the thermodynamic limit," Balachandran said. "The membrane reactor thinks: 'hey, I haven't reached equilibrium yet, let me take this reaction forward.'"

While Balachandran's team, which included chemists Stephen Dorris, Tae Lee, Chris Marshall and Charles Scouton, designed this experiment merely to prove the membrane's capability to produce ethylene, he hopes to extend the project by pairing with an industrial partner who would produce the membranes commercially. Since the membrane reduces the number of steps required to produce ethylene, the technology could enable the chemical to be produced more cheaply, he said.

The results of the research are expected to be presented at the 2008 Clean Technology conference in Boston in June. The work was funded by the Department of Energy's Industrial Technology Program, which resides within its Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "Environmentally Friendly Technology Can Produce Commonly Used Compound, Ethylene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205111714.htm>.
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. (2008, February 7). Environmentally Friendly Technology Can Produce Commonly Used Compound, Ethylene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205111714.htm
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "Environmentally Friendly Technology Can Produce Commonly Used Compound, Ethylene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205111714.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) Hundreds of Amazon River turtles released into the wild in Peru. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins