New process for butyraldehyde could save energy, cut costs
For many years, scientists have been exploring what happens when gases like carbon dioxide are dissolved in liquids.
Of course we all know what happens to water when carbon dioxide gas is added: it turns fizzy. But what happens when gases are added to organic solvents? They take up huge amounts of gases, expanding in volume like an inflatable beach ball. This changes their physical properties and impacts chemical reactions—such as hydroformylations—performed in that environment.
CEBC Director Bala Subramaniam and his graduate student, Dupeng Liu, are exploiting the novel effects of these “gas expanded liquids.” Recently, Liu’s research showed how this technology enhances the making of butyraldehyde, a building block for consumer products like detergents, perfumes, and pharmaceuticals.
The results, which are published in the AIChE journal, suggest the technology enables using a mixed feed of propane and propylene, instead of just super pure propylene like the current industrial process. Since only propylene reacts to make the product, the enriched propane stream from the reactor can be reused to make more propylene!
Eliminating the need for a costly purification step could save energy, curb greenhouse gas emissions and cut both capital and production costs.
Liu, D.; Chaudhari, R.V.; Subramaniam, B. "Enhanced solubility of hydrogen and carbon monoxide in propane- and propylene-expanded liquids," AIChE J. 2018 64:3 970-980. (Abstract)