Steam-cracking: an evergreen of the chemical process industry

Guy Marin (Laboratory for Chemical Technology, Ghent University, Belgium)

Location: Sala de Graus, ETSEQ
Start time: May 3, 2013, 12 p.m.


This lecture will focus on the thermal conversion of fossil or renewable feedstocks to olefins.

Steam cracking can be described by considering a limited number of elementary reaction families not only for fossil (1) but also for renewable feedstocks (2,3). Group contribution methods can be applied to calculate the corresponding kinetic parameters. The group contributions follow from a data base obtained by high level ab initio calculations involving representative molecules and reactions (4-7). Based on this single-event microkinetic (SEMK) methodology a reasonable agreement with pilot and industrial data was obtained for ethane steam cracking (8).

SEMK requires the characterization of a feed stock in terms of types of molecules. Both fossil or renewable feedstocks typically consist of a considerable amount of types of molecules. So-called molecular reconstruction methods use macroscopic properties such as density and boiling point traject to obtain a characterization of the feedstock in the terms required (9,10). Of course they are based on a training set. The latter can be obtained by a GCxGC analysis of typical feeds (11,12).

Process optimization and innovation not only involves feed stocks and reactor technology (13) but should also account for up- or downstream units like the Transfer Line Exchanger (TLE) (14), the convection section (15) and the interaction between the furnace and the reactor coils (16).


This research has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 ERC grant agreement n° 290793 (MADPII ) and from the Long Term Structural Methusalem Funding by the Flemish Government (M2dcR2).


1.Automatic Reaction Network Generation using RMG for Steam Cracking of n-Hexane, K.M. Van Geem, M.-F. Reyniers, G.B. Marin, J. Song, D.M. Matheu, W.H. Green AIChE Journal, 52 (2), 718-730, 2006

2.Accurate High-Temperature Reaction Networks for Alternative Fuels: Butanol Isomers, K..M. Van Geem, M.R. Harper, S.P. Pyl, G.B. Marin, W.H. Green Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 49, 21, 10399-10420, 2010

3.Comprehensive Reaction Mechanism for n-Butanol Pyrolysis and Combustion, Harper, M.R.; Van Geem, K.M.; Pyl, S.P.; Marin, G.B.; Green, W.H. Combustion and Flame, 158, 1, 16-41, 2011

4.Modeling the influence of resonance stabilization on the kinetics of hydrogen abstractions, M..K. Sabbe, A.G. Vandeputte, M.-F. Reyniers, M. Waroquier, G.B. Marin Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 12 (6) 1278-1298, 2010

5.Theoretical study of the thermal decomposition of dimethyl disulfide A.G. Vandeputte, M.-F. Reyniers, G.B. Marin Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 114 (39), 10531–10549, 2010

6.Modeling the Gas-phase thermochemistry of organosulfur compounds, Vandeputte, A.G.; Sabbe, M.K.; Reyniers, M.-F.; Marin, G.B. Chemistry, A European Journal,17, 27, 7656-7673, 2011

7.Kinetics of alpha Hydrogen Abstractions in Thiols, Sulfides and Thiocarbonyl Compounds, Vandeputte, A.G.; Sabbe, M.K.; Reyniers, M.-F.; Marin, G.B. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 14, 12773–12793, 2012

8. First Principle-Based Simulation of Ethane Steam Cracking, Sabbe, M.K.; Van Geem, K.M.; Reyniers, M.-F.; Marin, G.B. AIChE Journal, 57, 2, 482-496, 2011

9.Molecular reconstruction of complex hydrocarbon mixtures: an application of principal component analysis, S.P. Pyl, K.M. Van Geem, M.-F. Reyniers, G.B. Marin AIChE Journal, 56, 12, 3174-3188, 2010

10.Modeling the Composition of Crude Oil Fractions using Constrained Homologous Series, Pyl, S.P.; Hou, Z.; Van Geem, K.M.; Reyniers, M.-F.; Marin, G.B.; Klein, M.T. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, 50, 18, 10850-10858, 2011

11.Online analysis of complex hydrocarbon mixtures using comprehensive 2D gas chromatography, K.M. Van Geem, S.P. Pyl, M.F. Reyniers, J. Vercammen, J. Beens, G.B. Marin Journal of Chromatography A, 1217, 43, 6623-6633, 2010

12.Rapeseed oil methyl ester pyrolysis: On-line product analysis using comprehensive two-d12imensional gas chromatography, Pyl, S.P.; Schietekat, C.M.; Van Geem, K.M.; Reyniers, M.-F.; Vercammen, J.; Beens, J.; Marin, G.B. Journal of Chromatography A, 1218, 3217-3223, 2011

13.Modeling fast biomass pyrolysis in a gas-solid vortex reactor, Ashcraft, R.W.; Heynderickx, G.J.; Marin, G.B. Chemical Engineering Journal, 207,208, 195-208, 2012

14.Coke formation in the Transfer Line Exchanger (TLE) during steam cracking of hydrocarbons, K.M. Van Geem, I. Dhuyvetter, S. Prokopiev, M.-F. Reyniers, D. Viennet, G.B. Marin Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, 48 (23) 10343-10358, 2009

15.Modeling the coke formation in the convection section tubes of a steam cracker, S.C.K. De Schepper, G.J. Heynderickx, G.B. Marin Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 49 (12) 5752–5764, 2010

16.Coupled simulation of the flue gas and process gas side of a steam cracker convection section, S.C.K. De Schepper, G.J. Heynderickx, G.B. Marin AIChE Journal, 55 (11) 2773-2787, 2009

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About Guy Marin

Institution: Laboratory for Chemical Technology, Ghent University, Belgium

Guy B. Marin is professor in Chemical Reaction Engineering at Ghent University (Belgium) and directs the Laboratory for Chemical Technology. He received his chemical engineering degree from Ghent University in 1976 where he also obtained his Ph.D. in 1980. He previously held a Fulbright fellowship at Stanford University and Catalytica Associates (USA) and was full professor from 1988 to 1997 at Eindhoven University of Technology (The Netherlands) where he taught reactor analysis and design. The investigation of chemical kinetics, aimed at the modeling and design of chemical processes and products all the way from molecule up to full scale, constitutes the core of his research . He wrote a book “Kinetics of Chemical Reactions: Decoding Complexity” with G. Yablonsky (Wiley-VCH, 2011) and co-authored more than 300 papers in international journals. He is editor-in-chief of “Advances in Chemical Engineering” , co-editor of the Chemical Engineering Journal and member of the editorial board of “Applied Catalysis A: General”. In 2012 he received an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) on “Multiscale Analysis and Design for Process Intensification and Innovation (MADPII)” . He was selected to deliver the 2012 Danckwerts Annual Award lecture. He chairs the Working Party on Chemical Reaction Engineering of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering and is “Master” of the 111 project of the Chinese Government for oversees collaborations in this field.

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