The innovation engine for new materials

Joshua Rodriguez

Joshua Rodriguez


Chemical Engineering


University of California, Santa Barbara


Behzad Tangeysh

Faculty Sponsor(s): 

Eric McFarland

Faculty Sponsor's Department(s): 

Chemical Engineering

Project Title: 

Alkane Dehydrogenation using Transition Metal Nanofluid Catalyst

Project Description: 

Light olefins are among the most widely used reagents in the chemical industry for producing a variety of materials ranging from plastics to ethylene glycol agents. Alkane dehydrogenation in the presence of a catalyst is currently an industrial process for producing light olefins, i.e. propylene and ethylene, from their corresponding alkanes. This reaction occurs at the temperatures above 700°C, and thus developing new catalyst systems operating at lower temperatures can significantly improve the energy efficiency of this process. In this work, we investigate the catalytic reactivity of platinum nanoparticles (PtNPs) suspended in the molten salt (Pt nanofluids) by propane and ethane dehydrogenation in a bubble column reactor. Pt nanofluids were formed through thermal decomposition of H2PtCl6 in molten LiCl-LiBr-KBr (26-37-37 mol %). The reaction conversions were measured as a function temperature using gas chromatography. Our initial results show that the Pt nanofluids have limited catalytic activity at low PtNP concentration, and increasing the amount of nanoparticles in the melt significantly enhances the rate of dehydrogenation at lower temperatures.