The Hydroconv Network provides a forum for information exchange and cooperation in issues involving hydrocarbon conversion to key chemical process intermediates in a porous, oxidic-based catalyst of interest to industry. The cooperation between
Partners will include staff exchange and training and materials exchange schemes.
Chemical design of porous catalysts for hydrocarbon conversions and related processes will be a key factor in governing clean chemical process technology in the next few years. It involves developing the hydrothermal and colloid-based chemistry
underlying preparation of zeolites and activated clays on a
rational - materials engineering - basis. The materials
include mesoporous M41S type zeolites and congeners, pillared layered clays (PILCs) and analogues, variants of mid-pore
zeolites, and combinations of all three. A major objective is to define the processing-structure-property relationships in these materials classes permitting rational synthesis ('pore-engineering') of a particular catalyst for a specific, key,
hydrocarbon conversion. This includes all stages from value-addition to cheap raw materials via materials manipulation
through to in-situ mass-rmn/XAFS/AFM/Molecular Graphics/quantum mechanical probes for designing just in time practical catalysts.
Major hydrocarbon processes in the remit of the proposed
Network include: improved fluidised bed cracking (FCC),
alkylations of aromatics and activation of C2-C4 alkanes - with consequent replacement of noxious acids (HF, H2SO4, HNO3) in current industrial use. Also included will be oxidations and conversions of non-traditional hydrocarbon sources, e.g.
methane conversions, and new process replacement catalysts for industry.
EUROPEAN DIMENSION AND PARTNERSHIP
The participants to the Network include balanced group of large companies and SMEs and specialist academic groups in eight EU countries. The clustering of expertise in technology is very broad: process engineering, formulation, prototyping, and
scale-up. In basic science, the Network expertise covers:
colloid chemistry, catalysis, separation, and many aspects of porosity (diffusion, etc.). This will permit scientific work of potential relevance to their particular commercial interest to be transfered to industry day-to-day via an Information Centre and through the DSP Directory, and by means of Personnel and Materials Exchange Schemes. At the same time, young chemists and chemical engineers from less well-equipped organisations will benefit from contact with industrial needs.
Hydrocarbon conversion is internationally a highly competitive field of prime industrial importance and with fallout in many others (pollution, waste management, resource utilisation,
Rapidly changing demand and fluctuating feedstocks with fast turnover in commercial catalyst formulations are the major
difficulties in industrial hydrocarbon (HC) conversions.
Selective oxidation of hydrocarbons as a route for converting feedstocks to useful products is, of course, of immense
interest for the chemicals industry, and the next step is to use molecular oxygen. Using solid catalysts instead of
traditional homogeneous systems gives several major advantages, including ease of product recovery and catalyst recycling, and the potential to add additional selectivities as determined, for example, by the shape selectivity of the inorganic matrix. Making use of molecular oxygen and heterogenised active metal complex in this reaction provides an interesting alternative route to the activation of alkenes, compared to the current
focus on Ti/V zeolite systems.
Methane from natural gas will probably slowly replace other
feedstocks, and is of particular interest to this Network,
which is developing more efficient conversions to a readily
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