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

Award Information
Department of Energy
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Evernu Technology, Llc
1616 Holly Hill Lane, Suite 108, Maple Glen, PA, 19002
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
Manhua Mandy Lin
(215) 659-0547
Business Contact:
Manhua Mandy Lin
(215) 659-0547
Research Institution:
72314-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 rational design and systematic study/optimization of metal oxide compositions, preparation methods, and process conditions, the resulting industrial process will achieve 50% n-butane conversion and 50% MEK selectivity (~ 25% MEK yield). In Phase I, several lead metal oxide catalysts of various compositions were discovered to be fairly active for n-butane conversion and selective for MEK formation. The feasibility of catalytic production of MEK directly from n-butane in one-step, using air as the oxidant, was demonstrated. An MEK yield of approximately 5% (22.4 % n-butane conversion and 21.3 % MEK selectivity) was achieved. Phase II will develop a catalyst preparation process for highly active and selective metal oxide catalysts, conduct characterization studies to reveal the structure requirement of an effective catalyst, and perform a kinetic study to determine the preferred catalytic condition. Phase II goals include 50 % n-butane conversion and 50 % MEK selectivity ( ~ 25% MEK yield). Commercial Applications and Other Benefits as described by awardee: The catalytic process for the production of MEK should replace the current three-step sec-butyl alcohol process and provide U.S. MEK producers with the ability to compete and capture the global MEK markets. A 60% reduction in feedstock costs could be realized by using the much cheaper n-butane as the starting material (versus the currently used 1-butene). More than 3.8 trillion Btu of energy savings could be realized if the proposed technology were fully implemented. Lastly, the environmental friendly catalytic process should significantly reduce waste production from the current commercial sec-butyl alcohol process.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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