Chemical products from selective catalytic oxidations of hydrocarbons

I&EC 85

James E. Lyons, Department of Chemical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716
Unsaturated hydrocarbons are currently the preferred feedstocks for manufacturing commercial oxidation products. Substitution of the more abundant and inexpensive alkanes would represent a significant savings, especially if the processes could be operated in a single step in a selective manner. Over the past decade great strides have been made in the discovery of catalysts for more efficient alkane oxidations and processes are now under development or in pilot plant for accomplishing these transformations. Catalysts used for many of these reactions are mixed metal oxides, often having molybdenum and/or vanadium together with other metal oxide promoters. Model molecular oxide structures such as heteropolyoxometalates have also been used for these reactions and relationships between catalyst redox properties and both reaction rate and selectivity have been observed. Characterization of catalysts and studies of catalytic oxidations with both real and model systems are giving insight into the way these catalysts work and will both enhance their utility in current applications and broaden the applicability of these systems in the future.