Automatic Aromatics

Ward, Tess
Ruskowsky, Gabrianna
Weishaar, Jonathan
Wilkison, Brady
Aromatics are an important part of many chemical engineering processes around the world and have a large variety of commercial uses. In the future it is projected there will be a shortage of oil resources causing many research institutions to work actively to develop new techniques for producing aromatics. Para-xylene is a particularly profitable aromatic in today's industry. With the low cost of natural gas, converting methanol to para-xylene has become an attractive option. Methanol is readily available due to massive natural gas reserves underground and it is relatively inexpensive. Many current processes convert methanol to para-xylene in a two-reactor process, with DME as the intermediate. However, the process of converting methanol directly to para-xylene without the DME intermediate has been the focus of several papers and patents in the last couple years putting this process on the front end of innovation and in the sights of anyone wishing to produce para-xylene in a cost effective manner. Automatic Aromatic will use a catalyst to convert methanol directly to multiple aromatic compounds, the most marketable being para-xylene. Para-xylene is in high demand as it is used to produce polyethylene terephthalate which is used as a polyester fiber, film, and resin for applications in the container, cosmetic, textile, and packaging industries. The byproducts produced in this process are also lucrative as they can be sold to gas refineries to increase octane ratings. Our process design shows excellent conversion of methanol, and minimizes the amount of equipment in the process.
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