Synergistic sorbent separation for one-step ethylene purification from a four-component mixture

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Science  11 Oct 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6462, pp. 241-246
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax8666

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Selecting for ethylene

Purification of ethylene from other gases produced during its synthesis, such as acetylene, ethane, and carbon dioxide, is an energy-intensive process. Chen et al. use a mixture of microporous metal-organic framework physisorbents that are selective for one of these four gases. A series of sorbents in a packed-bed geometry produced ethylene pure enough for making polymers.

Science, this issue p. 241


Purification of ethylene (C2H4), the largest-volume product of the chemical industry, currently involves energy-intensive processes such as chemisorption (CO2 removal), catalytic hydrogenation (C2H2 conversion), and cryogenic distillation (C2H6 separation). Although advanced physisorbent or membrane separation could lower the energy input, one-step removal of multiple impurities, especially trace impurities, has not been feasible. We introduce a synergistic sorbent separation method for the one-step production of polymer-grade C2H4 from ternary (C2H2/C2H6/C2H4) or quaternary (CO2/C2H2/C2H6/C2H4) gas mixtures with a series of physisorbents in a packed-bed geometry. We synthesized ultraselective microporous metal-organic materials that were readily regenerated, including one that was selective for C2H6 over CO2, C2H2, and C2H4.

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