Liquid-phase adsorption of n-paraffins on type 5A molecular sieves

  • J.A.M. Ali

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


As a basis for the commercial separation of normal paraffins a detailed study has been made of factors affecting the adsorption of binary liquid mixtures of high molecular weight normal paraffins (C12, C16, and C20) from isooctane on type 5A molecular sieves. The literature relating to molecular sieve properties and applications, and to liquid-phase adsorption of high molecular weight normal paraffin compounds by zeolites, was reviewed. Equilibrium isotherms were determined experimentally for the normal paraffins under investigation at temperatures of 303oK, 323oK and 343oK and showed a non-linear, favourable- type of isotherm. A higher equilibrium amount was adsorbed with lower molecular weight normal paraffins. An increase in adsorption temperature resulted in a decrease in the adsorption value. Kinetics of adsorption were investigated for the three normal paraffins at different temperatures. The effective diffusivity and the rate of adsorption of each normal paraffin increased with an increase in temperature in the range 303 to 343oK. The value of activation energy was between 2 and 4 kcal/mole. The dynamic properties of the three systems were investigated over a range of operating conditions (i.e. temperature, flow rate, feed concentration, and molecular sieve size in the range 0.032 x 10-3 to 2 x 10-3m) with a packed column. The heights of adsorption zones calculated by two independent equations (one based on a constant width, constant velocity and adsorption zone and the second on a solute material balance within the adsorption zone) agreed within 3% which confirmed the validity of using the mass transfer zone concept to provide a simple design procedure for the systems under study. The dynamic capacity of type 5A sieves for n-eicosane was lower than for n-hexadecane and n-dodecane corresponding to a lower equilibrium loading capacity and lower overall mass transfer coefficient. The values of individual external, internal, theoretical and experimental overall mass transfer coefficient were determined. The internal resistance was in all cases rate-controlling. A mathematical model for the prediction of dynamic breakthrough curves was developed analytically and solved from the equilibrium isotherm and the mass transfer rate equation. The experimental breakthrough curves were tested against both the proposed model and a graphical method developed by Treybal. The model produced the best fit with mean relative percent deviations of 26, 22, and 13% for the n-dodecane, n-hexadecane, and n-eicosane systems respectively.
Date of Award1987
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorG. V. Jeffreys (Supervisor) & Clive J. Mumford (Supervisor)


  • Liquid-phase adsorption
  • n-paraffins
  • type 5A molecular sieves

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