Efficient Chemicals Production via Chemical Looping 

Lead Team Members: Raul Lobo (PI), Dion Vlachos, Babatunde Ogunnaike

Supporting Team Members: Leelavathi Annamalai, Xiaoxia Chang, Weihua Deng, Ajay Ganesh, Xuan Yang

Grad Students: Jian Pan, Yong Yuan

We will use chemical looping technology (CLT) to bridge gaps in chemical production. Led by Raul Lobo (principal investigator), Dion Vlachos, and Babatunde Oguannaike at the University of Delaware, in partnership with Dow Chemical Company, the research team will explore ways to upgrade natural gases, such as methane, ethane and propane, to higher-value commodity chemicals.

CLT is promising for its ability to enable low-carbon dioxide emission energy production because it provides for efficient capture of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere. However, CLT remains understudied because of the high cost of designing and prototyping solutions. Modular solutions may provide a path to enable the economic production of natural gas-derived products.

The project will deliver a continuous, automated chemical looping system for directly converting methane into hydrogen and aromatic compounds without using oxidation to spur the reaction. Taking advantage of process improvements, such as reusing heat generated at multiple points in the reaction, will enhance the overall energy efficiency of the process.

Additionally, the research team will use computational screening and experimental verification techniques to identify pairs of chemicals suitable for efficiently separating hydrogen from reaction mixtures. The project also will evaluate the commercial potential of CLT for upgrading natural gas by analyzing the technical and economic performance of the process in partnership with Dow Chemical Company.

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