Metal Oxide Catalyst for Methyl Ethyl Ketone Production via One-Step Oxidation of n-Butane

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase I
Award Id:
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Small Business Information
1616 Holly Hill Lane, Suite 108, Maple Glen, PA, 19002
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Manhua Lin
(215) 659-8574
Business Contact:
Manhua Lin
(215) 659-8574
Research Institution:
72314B03-I Methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) is a commodity chemical in high demand with an annual production of over 675 million pounds in the U.S. alone. Currently, 87 % of the MEK is produced via the three-step sec-butyl alcohol route, which starts with the expensive 1-butene, consumes large amounts of energy, and generates much corrosive and toxic waste. To address the cost, energy, and environmental issues together, this project will explore and develop a one-step process that uses a complex metal oxide catalyst to manufacture MEK from n-butane, a cheap component of natural gas. The process uses gas-phase selective oxidation with air as the oxidant. Through computer-assisted, rational design and study of catalyst compositions, preparation methods, and process conditions, an effective MaNbXcYdOn complex oxide catalyst, along with the related process of selective oxidation of n-butane to MEK, will be explored and developed. Phase I will design and prepare various catalysts of the composition MaNbXcYdOn, where M and N are selected from transition metal elements (to establish a basic catalyst framework for n-butane activation), and X and Y are elements for structural and surface modification (to enhance the catalyst selectivity towards MEK and its release from the catalyst surface). Catalyst testing and characterization will be performed to demonstrate the feasibility of achieving a 25% n-butane conversation at 25% MEK selectivity. The Phase II objective will be to achieve 50% n-butane conversion with 50% MEK selectivity, which would warrant further commercial development. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by awardee: If the new catalyst and process were used, huge economical benefits would be realized by replacing the costly 1-butene with the much cheaper and abundant n-butane. Enormous energy saving also would be achieved by replacing the current multi-step processes with a single-step process, and environmental benefits would be achieved by eliminating the use of sulfuric acid and its related waste stream.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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