Pollution Prevention in Industrial Condensation Reactions

EPA Grant Number: R825331
Title: Pollution Prevention in Industrial Condensation Reactions
Investigators: Spivey, James J. , Gogate, Makarand R.
Current Investigators: Spivey, James J. , Culp, Robert D. , Devon, Tom J. , Howe, Gary B. , Jang, Ben W-L. , Nikolopoulos, Apostolos A. , Olsen, David J.
Institution: Dessert Research Institute
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 1996 through September 30, 1999
Project Amount: $359,906
RFA: Technology for a Sustainable Environment (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability


The objective of this project is to develop heterogeneous acid-base catalysts to increase the economic and environmental performance of the current homogeneous catalysts used to make industrially important condensation products. Such products include methyl isobutyl ketone and 2-ethyl hexanol. Over 1 billion lb of these two chemicals are produced in the United States every year, using homogeneous bases such as NaOH/Ca(OH)2. These homogeneous catalysts generate about 1 lb of spent catalyst per 10 lb of the oxo condensation product, and product purification, recovery, and treatment contributes to about 30% of the selling price of these products. A practical heterogeneous catalyst will improve selectivity to the oxoproduct, will be environmentally benign, and reduce the overall cost to make the oxoproduct. The key research needs are then to develop catalysts that: (1) approximate the activity of homogeneous catalysts, (2) are highly selective to condensation products, and (3) are stable for practical on-stream times.

To achieve the aforementioned objectives, we will synthesize three well-defined groups of heterogeneous catalysts: (1) alkali metal oxides, (2) mixed metal oxides, and (3) hydrotalcite type clays. We also propose to add a acidic dehydration function and a metal hydrogenation function to the catalyst surface to make the final oxoproduct in one single-step. The hydrotalcite type mineral clay catalysts may hold the most promise in our view because of their sieving properties at the molecular level, are amenable to acid-base characteristics control, and ease in anchoring the base constituent to the neutral framework. Initial studies will focus on these clay catalysts with acetone as the feed in a high temperature high pressure trickle bed reactor system.

Eastman Chemical Company (Kingsport, TN) is RTI' project partner and has added $110,000 to the amount awarded by EPA-NSF via a cash contribution. As one of the world's leading producers of these oxochemicals, Eastman's keen interest, participation, and cash contribution clearly indicates the commercial potential of this research.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 8 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Sustainable Industry/Business, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Economics and Business, Environmental Engineering, in-process changes, oxochemicals, cost reduction, cleaner production, environmentally conscious manufacturing, industrial condensation reactions, waste minimization, waste reduction, acidic dehydration function, alternative materials, engineering, industrial process, innovative technology, pollution prevention, industrial innovations, condesation reactions

Relevant Websites:

clean technology, waste reduction, environmentally conscious manufacturing, cost reduction

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997
  • 1998
  • Final Report