Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have filed a provisional patent application for a new copper compound that can be used to purify ethylene for use as a raw material for plastics, such as polyethylene or PVC, as well as other industrial compounds.
Ethylene is produced from crude oil, but is usually obtained as a mixture containing ethane. Ethylene production processes typically require either pure or 99.9 percent ethylene feed.
"Existing technologies for the separation of ethylene and ethane use enormous amounts of energy and require a high level of capital investment," said Rasika Dias, UTA's prominent university chemistry and biochemistry professor.
"Our new technologies use copper compounds that can selectively absorb ethylene in solid state, leaving ethane with minimal energy release," he added.
The newly formed copper complex ethylene absorption is easy to reverse, so the absorbed ethylene can then be released and regenerated using mild temperature or pressure changes, resulting in a renewal of a copper starter complex that can be reused multiple times.
"As a result, our new technologies are both very sustainable and highly energy efficient and can be a real achievement in the distribution of olefins, such as ethylene and propylene from paraffin, which currently accounts for 0.3 percent of global energy consumption, which is approximately the same as Singapore's annual energy consumption, "said Dias.
Researchers have reported on their new technology in the international magazine Angewandte Chemie, writes "Low net heat of ethylene adsorption obtained by structural transformation of a broad solid state into a single complex of copper." This paper describes how the result of a structural change in power due to the action of ethylene results from the very low heat release in the absorption process.
Fred MacDonnell, U.T. Chemistry and Biochemistry, congratulated Dias for the development of this new technology.
"Dr. Dias and his colleagues have taken on the task of improving one of the most important chemical removal activities, and it was needed for a number of industrial processes and products that are used in our everyday lives," MacDonnell said. "This could have a very significant impact on the costs associated with the production of these goods, as well as radically improving the environmental impact of reducing the amount of heat released into the atmosphere."
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