Ethanol dehydration to ethylene in a stratified autothermal millisecond reactor

Michael J. Skinner, Edward L. Michor, Wei Fan, Michael Tsapatsis, Aditya Bhan, Lanny D. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The concurrent decomposition and deoxygenation of ethanol was accomplished in a stratified reactor with 50-80 ms contact times. The stratified reactor comprised an upstream oxidation zone that contained Pt-coated Al 2O3 beads and a downstream dehydration zone consisting of H-ZSM-5 zeolite films deposited on Al2O3 monoliths. Ethanol conversion, product selectivity, and reactor temperature profiles were measured for a range of fuel:oxygen ratios for two autothermal reactor configurations using two different sacrificial fuel mixtures: a parallel hydrogen-ethanol feed system and a series methane-ethanol feed system. Increasing the amount of oxygen relative to the fuel resulted in a monotonic increase in ethanol conversion in both reaction zones. The majority of the converted carbon was in the form of ethylene, where the ethanol carbon-carbon bonds stayed intact while the oxygen was removed. Over 90% yield of ethylene was achieved by using methane as a sacrificial fuel. These results demonstrate that noble metals can be successfully paired with zeolites to create a stratified autothermal reactor capable of removing oxygen from biomass model compounds in a compact, continuous flow system that can be configured to have multiple feed inputs, depending on process restrictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1151-1156
Number of pages6
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 22 2011


  • biomass
  • heterogeneous catalysis
  • microreactors
  • platinum
  • zeolites


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