Research arising from the EU's 7th Framework Programme’s SYNFLOW project on which Britest collaborated has resulted in a new, peer-reviewed publication describing a conceptual design study for a butadiene telomerization process. Britest Senior Innovation Specialists Amy Peace and Charles Gordon are co-authors on the new paper along with colleagues Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt, Sebastian Recker, and Christian Redepenning from RWTH Aachen University.
The study, which appeared in leading journal Chemie Ingenieur Technik on 26th September, considers the impact of catalyst selection on the process economics of the industrially important telomerization reaction using an optimization-based approach relying on shortcut models. In comparison to the current industrially established process, which uses a homogeneous catalyst is based on palladium modified with a triphenylphosphine-ligand (Pd/TPP), the investment cost of the novel process based on palladium modified with 1,3-dimesityl-imidazol-2-ylidene (Pd/IMes), increase only marginally, while operating costs decrease by more than 75 %.
This is primarily due to the advantageous recycle structure made possible by the alternative catalyst. For the PD/IMes catalyst, the catalyst could be recovered within the separation system. By contrast, due to deactivation, the Pd/TPP catalyst has to be recovered at the end of the process and reactivated in a separate batch process. This prevents continuous catalyst recycle.
Telomerization of butadiene with methanol is an important step in the production of the representative basic chemical 1-octene, most commonly encountered in the production of linear low-density polyethylene. Traditional synthesis routes, such as Fischer-Tropsch synthesis or ethylene oligomerization account for most of the worldwide demand for 1-octene, however their unfavourable selectivity requires expensive workup to achieve the necessary high purity. In contrast, the patented reaction cascade for the telomerization of butadiene with methanol, allows the production of 1-octene with high selectivity.
Although preliminary pilot-plant experiments carried out in SYNFLOW indicated that the economically favourable reaction concept was not stable (catalyst precipitation being suspected) the authors go on to briefly discuss alternative immobilization strategies (based on a threefold sulfonated derivative of the Pd/IMes catalyst) to guide future research.