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.

The entire abstract as well as the complete paper is available from the Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Techncial Information.  The paper may be dowloaded in PDF form below.