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A novel low-thermal-budget approach for the co-production of ethylene and hydrogen via the electrochemical non-oxidative deprotonation of ethane

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Abstract

The oversupply of ethane, a major component of natural gas liquids, has stimulated the wide applications of ethylene since the shale gas revolution. However, ethylene production is energy-intensive and represents the most energy-consuming single process in the chemical industry. In this communication, we report, for the first time, a novel low-thermal-budget process for the co-production of ethylene and pure hydrogen using a proton-conducting electrochemical deprotonation cell. At a constant current density of 1 A cm−2, corresponding to a hydrogen production rate of 0.448 mol cm−2 per day, and 400 °C, a close to 100% ethylene selectivity was achieved under an electrochemical overpotential of 140 mV. Compared to an industrial ethane steam cracker, the electrochemical deprotonation process can achieve a 65% saving in process energy and reduce the carbon footprint by as much as 72% or even more if renewable electricity and heat are used. If the heating value of produced hydrogen is taken into account, the electrochemical deprotonation process actually has a net gain in processing energy. The electrochemical deprotonation process at reduced temperatures in the present study provides a disruptive approach for petrochemical manufacturing, shifting the paradigm from thermal chemical practice to a clean energy regime.

Graphical abstract: A novel low-thermal-budget approach for the co-production of ethylene and hydrogen via the electrochemical non-oxidative deprotonation of ethane

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Publication details

The article was received on 01 Mar 2018, accepted on 28 Mar 2018 and first published on 28 Mar 2018


Article type: Communication
DOI: 10.1039/C8EE00645H
Citation: Energy Environ. Sci., 2018, Advance Article
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    A novel low-thermal-budget approach for the co-production of ethylene and hydrogen via the electrochemical non-oxidative deprotonation of ethane

    D. Ding, Y. Zhang, W. Wu, D. Chen, M. Liu and T. He, Energy Environ. Sci., 2018, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8EE00645H

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