New catalyst produces twice as much raw material for common plastics

New catalyst can produce propylene from natural gas at least 10 times more efficiently

modern commercial catalysts. It is made of platinum and tin nanoparticles with a silica skeleton.

Propylene was traditionally produced atrefineries in bulk steam cracking, which break down petroleum feedstocks into lighter hydrocarbon molecules. But cracking shale gas to produce propylene has proven ineffective.

New catalyst efficiently produces propyleneIs a molecule with three carbon atoms and six hydrogens: propane is needed for production, which contains two additional hydrogens. It uses a process called non-oxidative dehydrogenation.

The key innovation of the new catalyst isthat it uses silica as a support structure for platinum and tin nanoparticles, rather than the alumina used in modern catalysts. Alumina reacts with tin, causing it to separate from the platinum and destroy the catalyst. Since the new catalyst delays this reaction, the resulting feedstock has a longer life.

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