Sebastian JARCZEWSKI*, Piotr KUŚTROWSKI – Faculty of Chemistry, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland
Please cite as: CHEMIK 2016, 70, 6, 298–309
From the beginning of the twentieth century, a systematic growth of demand for high volume products of chemical industry has been observed . A rapid economic development of Asian (especially China, India and Middle East) as well as African countries suggests that during the next decades a further growth of such production should be expected . It is worth to note that a majority of thousands of available chemicals is produced from a small group of tens of base chemicals. Among them, alkenes (e.g. ethylene, propylene, butadiene), being the most important monomers in the plastics industry, play a very important role. Ethylene with a global production capacity exceeding 150 mln t/year is a leading feedstock.
Olefins are mainly produced by the thermal cracking of relatively low reactive alkanes present in natural gas (North America, Middle East) and in crude oil (Europe, Japan) . In this process, water vapour is used as an agent, which lowers partial pressure of reagents and supplies a heat energy needed for the endothermic conversion. This fact significantly restricts the economic efficiency of this technology and unfavourably affects the cost of final chemical products. For example, in the synthesis of acrylonitrile about 67% of the overall cost of its production is related to the propylene synthesis, which is the main feedstock . An additional disadvantage of the cracking process is low selectivity to desired products, which is a typical feature of reactions carried out without any catalyst. Despite the continuous efforts aiming to reduce the energy requirement of the thermal cracking process, it still consumes 40% of global energy used by the petrochemical industry .
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