I3A - Instituto de Investigación en Ingeniería de Aragón

Technology
Technology
Technology
Technology
Technology
Chemical reactor for the conversion of methane to aromatic hydrocarbons

Catalysis, Molecular Separations and Reactor Engineering Group (CREG) has developed through a project supported by the National R + D an innovative type of chemical reactor. In this project, in which CEPSA acted as an Observer Company (EPO), promising results were obtained with a fluidized bed reactor of two zones with variable section, for transforming methane into aromatic hydrocarbons. In particular, the reactor allowed to counteract the effect of catalyst deactivation, when performing the regeneration reaction itself in one of the zones, while carrying out the desired aromatization reaction on the other. This prevents the conversion decreased with time having conventional reactors. Having two separate sections for each of the two zones, the flows can be adapted to the needs of the reaction that takes place in each zone.

This technology is of great interest to CEPSA, as aromatic hydrocarbons represent the basis of most of the processes developed by the chemical branch of CEPSA. Given the rising price of oil, the differential between natural gas and aromatic hydrocarbons (usually derived from oil) makes it especially interesting to have an alternative technology. This has led to collaboration between CREG and CEPSA group through a CDTI (Centre for Industrial Technological Development to the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness) project, currently in progress, aimed at testing the scaling (step pilot plant) of this technology.

Note that the conversion of natural gas into liquid fuels (GTL) is one of the great challenges for catalysis. Aromatization of methane is a process discovered in the 90s. Compared to other already established processes GTL technology presents several advantages: it allows to obtain aromatic hydrocarbons and needs no intermediate step of obtaining the synthesis gas which has a low energy efficiency. Despite the above industrial application has been hampered by the problem of catalyst deactivation. The reactor developed by the CREG presents a solution to this problem and therefore allow the use of natural resources (dispersed natural gas, biogas) currently unused and CEPSA provide an alternative source for obtaining oil from the starting materials in which production is based chemical (detergents, polymers, solvents, etc.).

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