How to make propylene more efficiently from propane?

(08-07-2022) Nadadur Veeraraghavan Srinath's PhD examines how the process of making propylene from propane can be improved.

Propylene is extracted from petroleum where it is present in low amounts. It is an important feedstock for the chemical industry. Propylene is used in the production of acetone, among other things. However, its main application is polymerization into polypropylene. This plastic is used for bottles, carpets, furniture, small boats, car parts, medical equipment, even some banknotes are made from it. Moreover, it can be easily recycled.

The global demand for polypropylene and therefore propylene is expected to increase. Therefore, it is appropriate to create propylene in other ways as well. One way to make propylene is to extract hydrogen from propane, also known as propane dehydrogenation (PDH).

"In my doctoral research, I am studying 2 ways to improve the process of propane dehydrogenation," Srinath says.

"On the one hand, the process can be improved by adding CO2, which can immediately help to reduce CO2 emissions. Using CO2 in combination with propane in the gas feed which can help to consume CO2 instead of emitting it," Srinath explains.

"On the other hand, I am trying to improve the process of PDH by applying a coating to the catalyst*, giving it a longer life," Srinath continues.

"The main technique used in both processes is X-ray absorption spectroscopy, where by using X-rays one can determine the structure of a material, even in reaction," Srinath concludes.

*A catalyst affects the rate of a specific chemical reaction without being consumed itself.

Read a more detailed summary or the entire PhD

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PhD Title: CO2-Assisted Propane Dehydrogenation over Pt-Based Catalysts: Looking inside via In Situ X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy

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Contact: Nadadur Veeraraghavan Srinath, Vladimir Galvita, Jolien Dendooven

Nadadur Veeraraghavan Srinath was born in Tirupati (India) in 1990. He obtained his Bachelor of Technology degree in Chemical Engineering from Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology (SVNIT-Surat), India in 2012. Following this, he joined a petrochemical company as an Executive-Process: ONGC Petro-additions Limited (OPaL), situated at Dahej (India), the largest polyethylene production plant in Asia. He worked there for three years during the time of its construction and commissioning phases while being responsible for three production units (HDPE, HDPE/LLDPE & Butene-1).

In September 2015, he joined Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), The Netherlands, to pursue a Master of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. Under the supervision of Prof. Volker Hessel, he worked on the topic of plasma catalysis (plasma catalytic ammonia synthesis in a dielectric barrier discharge reactor). The results of his work led to one co-authored A1 publication and two conference contributions.

In August 2017, he joined the Laboratory for Chemical Technology (LCT), Ghent University as a PhD candidate under the supervision of Prof. Vladimir Galvita and Prof. Jolien Dendooven. He investigated CO2-assisted propane dehydrogenation, with primary focus on gaining insight into the catalyst behaviour through advanced catalyst characterization (XAS, SAXS) and testing. His research at LCT led to seven A1 publications of which two as first author, with more papers submitted, along with several contributions to international conferences. He also coached two masters students towards their thesis during this period, after which they became themselves PhD students at LCT.

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Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke