Objectives and content
Oxidation of hydrocarbons to oxygenates is normally limited by low selectivity due to carbon dioxide formation and by conversion, so the resulting yield is often below 80-90%.
The present research programme focuses on the selective oxidation of n-butane to maleic anhydride where the yield is even below 60%.
Maleic anhydride is an important intermediary in the manufacture of unsaturated polyester resins and the production increases by several per cent annually.
It is the aim of this research programme to develop a reactor based on ceramic membranes where the reaction between butane and air/oxygen takes place either on a catalyst within the membrane tube or at a catalytic surface created within the membrane wall. It is expected that the selectivities achievable in such reactors will be above 90%. The catalyst will be optimized for the membrane reactor. Methods for deposition of catalyst in the membrane reactor wall will be developed and the catalysts and membranes will be thoroughly characterized before and after membrane reactor studies. A package for the design of a pilot or demonstration membrane reactor will be the end product of the project.
It is widely recognized that an industrial breakthrough in the use of high temperature membrane reactors mainly depends on whether or not highly perm-selective and stable membranes will be developed.
Overall, this should lead to a substantially improved process with lower investment costs and lower consumption figures. Besides the increased selectivity, the latter will also involve a substantially reduced emission of carbon dioxide.
The expected development should be transferable to other selective oxidation reactions such as the production of phthalic anhydride and acrylonitrile.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
L69 3GH Liverpool