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Chemical industry: Trapping of acetylene contaminants

August 31, 2020 / Sciencedaily
SHARESHARESHARE

Ethylene is the most important chemical precursor for ethanol and polyethylene and is mainly produced by steam cracking. Although the ethylene fraction is usually very pure (more than 99%), remaining traces of acetylene contaminants can destroy the catalysts used in downstream processes. As ethylene and acetylene are very similar and only differ in the amount of hydrogen atoms -- ethylene has four hydrogen atoms bound to two carbon atoms, acetylene has two -- the separation of both gases is elaborate and difficult. The current industrial processes rely on distillation, which consumes a huge amount of energy.