Dr. David Bell


Over the semester, the goal of team EBTAX was to create an economically viable process for the conversion of ethane to various valuable aromatics, specifically benzene, toluene, and xylene, commonly referred to as BTX. A recent oversupply of natural gas in the United States has caused a significant price drop in the national market. This creates an economic opportunity to use natural gas, specifically ethane, as a feedstock to create valuable chemical products. A recent patent, US8772563, describes a platinum-germanium zeolite catalyst which converts ethane to BTX with high selectivity. Using this catalyst, a system of two reactors was designed to produce 700 million pounds per year (MMlb/yr) of BTX from ethane. Large amounts of hydrogen is also produced in the reactor, which can be sold in addition to the primary BTX products. In the design, a full complementary separation system was devised with industry standards and precedents to maximize product quality and profits. Preliminary economic analyses show high profit potential, and EBTAX recommends moving forward to a pilot plant to verify key assumptions made in the design phase.


Chemical Engineering

Publication Date