Catalytic Cracking of Hydrocarbons for Enhanced Light Olefin Production

Tech ID: 19-039

Inventors: Dr. Thomas Degnan, Dr. William Schneider, Dr. Jason Hicks 

Date Added: August 12, 2019


A new chemical process that enhances the existing fraction catalytic cracking (FCC) process to increase the yield of valuable olefins.

Technology Summary 

Light olefins (ethylene and propylene), used primarily in plastics, are in high demand and production is projected to continually fall short of this demand. In order to produce more propylene, petroleum refiners have implemented propylene selective additives to the fraction catalytic cracking refinery process. Ethylene production, however, currently requires a separate process such as steam cracking.  

A new process developed by researchers at the University of Notre Dame fills the gap in light olefin production using existing fraction catalytic cracking units. While ethylene enhancement is its principal goal, the process is anticipated to also enhance the production of propylene. The process requires conditions much less severe and energy-intensive than conventional methods for ethylene production, enabling ethylene to be produced at 950 °F rather than 1300 °F. The preparation method can be applied to various chemical processes. 

Market Advantages 

  • Higher Yield: Increases Ethylene and Propylene yield 
  • Low Implementation Cost: Can be retrofitted onto existing FCC equipment
  • Optimize Product Output: Can adjust product yield; ratio of crude oil, propylene and ethylene to meet changing market demand and changes in relative prices

Technology Readiness Status

TRL 2 - Technology Concept


Richard Cox