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Chinese scientists discover new catalyst for energy efficient olefin production

(People's Daily Online)    14:14, October 09, 2016

Chinese scientists have made significant progress in the direct conversion of olefins from synthesis gas, which will lower the petrochemical energy consumption required to produce olefins.

The result of the research, led by Shanghai Tech University and the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, was published in the British scientific journal Nature on Oct. 5.

Olefin is a basic carbon-based building block that is widely used in the production of industrial chemicals and plastics. It is an important contributor to synthetic rubber, synthetic plastics, high-grade lubricants, fatty alcohols, high-density jet fuels and more. The chemical compounds are obtained from petroleum and other fossil fuels, or renewable sources such as corn or sugarcane.

To obtain olefin from coal or natural gas requires several steps. First, either substance must be converted into synthesis gas, or syngas, which is then made into methanol, which finally becomes olefin. Scientists all over the world have been working on simplifying the process to increase energy efficiency.

The Shanghai team created a promising new catalyst, cobalt carbide nanoprisms, which catalyzes the conversion of syngas with high selectivity for the production of olefins. The conversion can occur under mild reaction conditions, which means lower temperatures and pressure. The olefin yield nevertheless remains satisfactory.

In the next step of the project, scientists from the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute will join hands with various companies to realize the industrial application of their catalyst. They will work together to design an apparatus for catalytic amplification, further refining the manufacturing procedure. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Ma Danning, Bianji)

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