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HomeChemistryHeterogeneous ethylene hydroformylation makes industrial manufacture of propanal/n-propanol exceedingly efficient

Heterogeneous ethylene hydroformylation makes industrial manufacture of propanal/n-propanol exceedingly efficient

The industrial facility of 50 kt/year propanal/n-propanol by heterogeneous ethylene hydroformylation. Credit: LI Cunyao

Through hydroformylation, olefins, hydrogen, and carbon monoxide can be transformed into aldehydes. After additional conversion, compounds such as alcohols, acids, and esters are produced.

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However, commercial hydroformylation predominantly employs homogeneous technology, which can lead to complications such as separation between catalyst and product, leaching of precious metals and ligands, major solvent concerns, and inefficient heat utilisation during the exothermic reaction.

Profs. Ding Yunjie and Yan Li of the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have now realised the extremely efficient industrial production of propanal/n-propanol using heterogeneous ethylene hydroformylation.

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Based on heterogeneous ethylene hydroformylation technology, the facility with a 50 kt/year propanal/n-propanol output was put into operation in Ningbo, China in August of 2020. It has been in stable operation for the past 22 months.

As both carrier and ligand, heterogeneous hydroformylation technology employs porous organic polymers with a large specific surface area and hierarchically porous structure. Using numerous Rh-P coordination bonds, it metalates rhodium ions to generate single-Rh-site catalysts with good performance and great stability.

Prof. Ding stated, “The usage rate of precious metals in our heterogeneous hydroformylation method is close to one hundred percent, rendering the leaching of precious metals and ligand negligible.” In this method, the separation of catalyst and product incurs no expense.

“The reaction system is solvent-free, and the products are exceptionally pure. In addition, a great deal of low-grade reaction heat can be utilised effectively in the hydroformylation and hydrogenation reactions “explained Prof. Yan.

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences

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