Use of a fluidized bed reactor to produce hydrocarbons
Irene Pinilla Herrero, Postdoc at the Centre for Materials Science and Nanotechnology Chemistry, UiO
Chemical industry is facing two critical problems. On one hand, the world population keep growing and, on the other, we need to preserve the environment and use our natural resources wisely. In this context, there has been a big investment in R&D in order to either develop new processes or products or improve and optimize the existing ones. Thanks to such investments, the chemical industry is nowadays based on catalysis, and more than 85% of the manufactured chemical products are obtained involving catalysis.
The use of catalysts has especially improved the petrochemical industry, which implies a big impact in the global economy. Many of the refining steps involve the use of heterogeneous catalysts, making the global process more efficient. However, nowadays considering the progressive depletion of the crude oil reserved and because of the many problems derived from the use of petroleum, we need to develop oil-independent industrial and economic systems. That is why alternative routes to oil-based processes for the production of chemicals are highly needed.
In the field of petrochemistry, not only gasoline but also chemicals are produced in large scale. Light olefins and aromatics are widely used as intermediates in the petrochemical industry. They are traditionally produced via catalytic reforming or steam cracking of oil fractions, but it is also possible to directly convert methanol into such chemicals via MTH (methanol to hydrocarbons) technology. Due to the wide availability of methanol from quite diverse carbon sources (such as natural gas, coal, biomass, etc.) this alternative process is attracting great attention. MTH transformations are typically catalyzed by zeolitic materials; mainly ZSM-5 zeolite and SAPO-34 silicoaluminophosphate.
In the presentation, I will focus on the production of aromatics using zeolites as catalysts and I will introduce how the process can be improved by using the best combination of catalysts and reaction conditions, for which different kinds of reactors can be used.