Application of staged O2 feeding in the oxidative dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene to styrene over Al2O3 and P2O5/SiO2 catalysts

Christian Nederlof, Valeriya Zarubina, Ignacio V. Melián-Cabrera, Erik H.J. Heeres, Freek Kapteijn, Michiel Makkee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drastic improvements in styrene yield and selectivity were achieved in the oxidative dehydrogenation of ethylbenzene by staged feeding of O2. Six isothermal packed bed reactors were used in series with intermediate feeding of O2, while all EB was fed to the first reactor, diluted with helium or CO2 (1:5 molar ratio), resulting in total O2:EB molar feed ratios of 0.2-0.6. The two catalyst samples, γ-Al 2O3 and 5P/SiO2, that were applied both benefitted from this operation mode. The ethylbenzene conversion per stage and the selectivity to styrene were significantly improved. The production of COX was effectively reduced, while the selectivity to other side products remained unchanged. Compared with co-feeding at a total O 2:EB molar feed ratio of 0.6, by staged feeding the EB conversion (+15% points for both catalysts), ST selectivity (+4% points for both samples) and O2 (ST) selectivity (+9% points for γ-Al2O 3 and +17% points for 5P/SiO2) all improved. The ethylbenzene conversion over 5P/SiO2 can be increased from 18% to 70% by increasing the number of reactors from 1 to 6 with each reactor a total amount of O2 of 0.1 without the loss of ST selectivity (93%). For 5P/SiO2 a higher temperature (500 C vs. 450 C for Al 2O3) is required. Essentially more catalyst (5P/SiO 2) was required to achieve full O2 conversion in each reactor. Staged feeding of O2 does not eliminate the existing issues of the catalyst stability both in time-on stream and as a function of the number of catalyst regenerations (5P/SiO2), or the relatively moderate performance (relatively low styrene selectivity for γ-Al2O 3).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-214
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Catalysis A: General
Early online date12 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2014


  • alumina
  • catalyst coking
  • catalyst stability
  • ethylbenzene
  • oxidative dehydrogenation
  • phosphorous
  • selectivity
  • silica
  • staged feeding
  • styrene


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