The adsorptive separation of aromatic hydrocarbon mixtures

  • Khairya A. Al-Zaid

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A detailed study has been made of the feasibility of adsorptive purification of slack waxes from traces of aromatic compounds using type 13X molecular sieves to achieve 0.01% aromatics in the product. The limited literature relating to the adsorption of high molecular weight aromatic compounds by zeolites was reviewed. Equilibrium isotherms were determined for typical individual aromatic compounds. Lower molecular weight, or more compact, molecules were preferentially adsorbed and the number of molecules captured by one unit cell decreased with increasing molecular weight of the adsorbate. An increase in adsorption temperature resulted in a decrease in the adsorption value. The isosteric heat of adsorption of differnt types of aromatic compounds was determined from pairs of isotherms at 303 K to 343 K at specific coverages. The lowest heats of adsorption were for dodecylbenzene and phenanthrene. Kinetics of adsorption were studied for different aromatic compounds. The diffusivity decreased significantly when a long alkyl chain was attached to the benzene ring e.g. in dodecylbenzene; molecules with small cross-sectional diameter e.g. cumene were adsorbed most rapidly. The sorption rate increased with temperature. Apparent activation energies increased with increasing polarity. In a study of the dynamic adsorption of selected aromatic compounds from binary solutions in isooctane or n-alkanes, naphthalene exhibited the best dynamic properties followed by dibenzothiophene and finally dodecylbenzene. The dynamic adsorption of naphthalene from different n-alkane solvents increased with a decrease in solvent molecular weight. A tentative mathematical approach is proposed for the prediction of dynamic breakthrough curves from equilibrium isotherms and kinetic data. The dynamic properties of liquid phase adsorption of aromatics from slack waxes were studied at different temperatures and concentrations. The optimum operating temperature was 543 K. The best dynamic performance was achieved with feeds of low aromatic content. The studies with individual aromatic compounds demonstrated the affinity of type NaX molecular sieves to adsorb aromatics in the concentration range 3% - 5% . Wax purification by adsorption was considered promising and extension of the experimental programme was recommended.
Date of Award1987
Original languageEnglish


  • adsorptive separation
  • aromatic hydrocarbon mixtures

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