PEP Review 79-3-1
Olefins, Light, from Ethylene
Published: June 1980
SRI initiated this study to examine the potential of producing light olefins in the C4-C10 carbon range from ethylene. These olefins may augment the supply coming as coproducts from detergent olefin production. A review of all alpha olefin technology was made to find a process that showed a high selectivity to these light olefins. While many catalyst systems are known to oligomerize olefins, few literature or patent examples were directed explicitly at producing light alpha olefins in high selectivity. The most favorable catalyst system found was a nickel-promoted solid silica-alumina catalyst. We made a preliminary design and economic evaluation of processes using this catalyst. Our economic analysis indicates that a plant that produces 120 million pounds of butene-1 and 20 million pounds of C4-C10 olefins annually could be competitive today under current market conditions.
SRI believes this type of process may be interesting to many companies that have an internal requirement for light olefins. Further process development is required to select an optimum catalyst and optimum operating conditions to give the desired olefin product range.