Published March 1968
Butadiene, born of wartime necessity and brought to immediate maturity by the demands of a vast synthetic rubber industry, may now be entering a new phase of development. Original processes for the dehydrogenation of n-butane and n-butenes, which have given excellent service for over two decades, are now facing competition from the newer technology of oxidative dehydrogenation. In addition, a mammoth ethylene industry, which is expected to triple in size between 1965 and 1970, will also produce large quantities of by-product butadiene. Countries that for many postwar years were importers of butadiene and its products are now equipping themselves with modern facilities and looking closely at international markets.
On the brighter side for existing producers is the fact that butadiene is no longer dependent on GR-S and CR-A synthetic rubber for its sole support. Over half of the U.S. output will soon be consumed by other applications. Moreover, a broad variety of possible reactions and products is likely to ensure continuing growth and diversification of butadiene end uses.
A principal objective of this report is to compare the costs of established processes for the dehydrogenation of n-butane and refinery butenes to butadiene with those of the newer naphtha cracking to ethylene and by-product butadiene and with those of the still developing oxidative-dehydrogenation or oxidative-halogen-dehydrogenation technology. An attempt has also been made to evaluate various solvents, proposed or in use, for the purification of butadiene.
To this end, a different solvent and purification system is employed with each dehydrogenation process. Recent advances in the elimination or removal of acetylene impurities in butadiene are reviewed.
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