Aromatics from Alternative Sources by Catalysis with Sulfated Zirconia and Related Systems

Period of Performance: 01/01/2008 - 12/31/2008


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Eltron Research, Inc.
4600 Nautilus Court South
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


The production of high-volume chemicals from non-petroleum sources such as coal is of great importance for a post-oil economy based on alternative and renewable sources. In particular, there is the need to produce high-volume chemicals as feedstocks for various heavy industries. In turn, the solution will require better catalytic industrial processes, especially those based on solid acid catalysts. These processes includes the production of coal-derived Fischer-Tropsch naphtha, a potential large-scale source for naphtha paraffins from which the whole array of industrially-important high-volume aromatics could be produced. This project will design and prepare improved solid acid metal oxides with advanced properties, and test them as selective catalysts in paraffin-to-aromatics and aromatic transformation reactions that are capable of integration into future, coal-derived Fischer-Tropsch plants. Phase I designed, prepared, and characterized a variety of strong acid and superacid solid catalysts, and tested them in various catalytic reactions on a dedicated, fixed-bed microreactor designed and constructed for this project. The ability of some catalysts to effectively and selectively convert C6+ linear paraffins to aromatics and to transform basic aromatics to more valuable aromatics was demonstrated. Phase II will further improve the catalysts, optimize reaction conditions, and design continuous bench-scale processes for aromatics production. Engineering modeling will be used to find the best mode of operation and reactor type. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by the awardee: The development of more efficient and environmentally-friendly catalytic processes should speed the widespread use of Fischer-Tropsch coal-to-liquid plants for the supply of naphtha feedstock for aromatic hydrocarbons. In addition, the penetration of this technology would help grow the nation¿s economy and create more jobs, especially in rural America