to handle multiple catalyst loads (<10% by weight) • Can handle the stress and condi- tions of particular reactor environ - ments. Third-party aging studies show no change to the fiber crys - tallinity and microstructure after ageing at temperatures above 980°C under steam-rich conditions for 24 hours • Improves conventional catalyst supports with its defined porous surface microstructure, which allows direct loading of the catalyst onto the fiber (without alumina car - riers or washcoat) • Offers a high specific surface area and enhanced tortuosity The ideal catalyst support will leverage high surface areas while being installed in a way that minimises pressure drop, side products, and coke formation • Is ready for on-demand produc- tion at tonnage scale • Is customisable to fit specific catalytic applications in several industries and can be delivered at commercial scale, based on custom- ers’ needs While there are many factors to consider when deploying such a technology in the field, Alkegen focused on the technical practicali- ties of bringing such a fiber to prod - uct form, including impregnation, part assembly, and installation. Designed for differing uses and industries, FlexCat offers a revolu - tionary catalyst support media to provide enhanced catalyst effective - ness while increasing yields, purity, and cost savings. Conclusion The existing catalyst support space needs innovative solutions; rising costs suggest that improving cat - alysts means boosting conversion
reactor temperatures, thereby allow- ing plants to get back to producing faster. While the regeneration pro- cess requires synthetic air, FlexCat utilises only 5% O 2 at most to burn off excess coke, versus pellets which can require up to 20% O 2 . Less susceptible to irreversible deac- tivation: Under the conditions described, FlexCat exhibits greater run-to-run stability and a demon- strated superior resistance to irre- versible deactivation. Stability of microstructure and amor- phous alumina : Analysis using common methods like XRD and N 2 adsorption – BET surface area demonstrates that the fibrous cat - alyst support is not damaged after cycling but rather remains highly porous, with a well-defined surface microstructure, as surface area and pore volume remain unchanged. The temperatures required for con- version and the consecutive regen - erations did not alter the phase of the alumina, γ-alumina. Flexible use to leverage existing reac- tor space or customise new builds : FlexCat has the potential for drop-in use with existing reactor designs or new builds. Its model cylindrical form was designed to expand the geometric surface area while limit- ing pressure drop to 35 mbar. After over 100 hours at these conditions, stability pressure-drop testing sug- gested that FlexCat’s fiber form was durable, without excess wear, by-pass, or tunnelling. Driving global demand Alkegen wisely took a manufac- turing-led approach in developing FlexCat to meet global demand and enable massive benefits across the board. Utilising a scalable process and readily available materials, FlexCat stemmed from the com- pany’s established fiber process technologies. Its proven development expertise in inorganic materials and ability to scale manufacturing to a global level translated into creating a prod - uct with significant flexibility: • Offers a defined microstructure that makes it an ideal candidate
of a given feedstock while limiting side products and coke build-up. 3 However, advancements in het - erogeneous catalyst support tech- nology can also help improve performance and yield/output. The ideal catalyst support will lever - age high surface areas while being installed in a way that minimises pressure drop, side products, and coke formation, with the ulti- mate goal of achieving additional yield and feedstock conversion while offering longer lifetimes and reduced regeneration times. FlexCat overcomes these chal - lenges with its unique, high sur- face area fiber, providing a defined microstructure that defies the usual trade-off between increased yield and coke build-up/side products that occur in high alumina catalyst support media. Third-party testing has demon- strated a 40% increase in propene yield/hour and 75% more propene yield across ten cycles. Furthermore, data showed fewer side products and lower regeneration times in a microtube reactor system that mod- elled a high-value reaction, propane dehydrogenation. Finally, FlexCat can be loaded into a viable prod - uct form for retrofitting existing installations or construction of new installations. Based on these results, it is in current validation projects across the catalysis value chain, including work with catalysers, licensors, and process designers in the industry.
References 1 Chem. Rev. 2015, 115, 14, 6687-6718. 2 Reviews in Advanced Sciences
Engineering 2014 , Vol. 3, 180-195. 3 American Academic Scientific Research Journal For Engineering, Technology, and Sciences 2018, Vol. 45, No. 1, 49-63. 4 Chem. Rev. 2014, 114, 20, 10613-10653.
Kevin Siters is the Technical Manager of the FlexCat at Alkegen. He has over 15 years of experience in inorganic, organic, and surface chemistry and focuses on developing innovative materials and processes. He holds a BS and PhD in medicinal chemistry from the University at Buffalo in New York.
Catalysis 2022 43
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