Published by the USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
January 18 2012
Due to the very small relative volatility difference between propane and propylene, current propane/propylene separation by distillation requires very tall distillation towers (150-250 theoretical plates) and large reflux ratios (up to 15), which is considered to be the most energy consuming large-scale separation process. Adsorptive separation processes are widely considered to be more energy-efficient alternatives to distillation. However, slow diffusion kinetics/mass transport rate through the adsorbent bed often limits the performance of such processes, so further improvements are possible if intra-particle mass transfer rates can be improved.
Rive Technology, Inc. is developing and commercializing its proprietary mesoporous zeolite technology for catalysis and separation. With well-controlled intracrystalline mesoporosity, diffusion kinetics through such mesoporous zeolite based catalysts is much improved relative to conventional zeolites, leading to significantly better product selectivity. This ‘proof-of-principle’ project (DE-EE0003470) is intended to demonstrate that Rive mesoporous zeolite technology can be extended and applied in adsorptive propane/propylene separation and lead to significant energy savings compared to the current distillation process.
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