Critical review: ‘Green’ ethylene production through emerging technologies, with a focus on plasma catalysis

Pradeep Lamichhane, Nima Pourali, Lauren Scott, Nam N. Tran, Liangliang Lin, Marc Escribà Gelonch, Evgeny V. Rebrov, Volker Hessel (Corresponding author)

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Over the years, numerous studies have explored the green synthesis of ethylene. Within this context, the focus of this perspective shifts toward plasma technology, which has demonstrated the capability to convert methane into ethylene. Plasma catalysis creates distinctive physical and chemical environments, particularly at normal temperature and pressure, distinguishing it from alternative methods. Nevertheless, the utilization of atmospheric pressure plasma is intricate, posing scientific challenges in the realms of physics and chemistry. In this viewpoint, various key performance aspects are evaluated, encompassing methane conversion efficiency, ethylene selectivity, and specific energy input. These scientific pros and cons are then assessed for their readiness for industrial-scale implementation. Initially, the potential for small-scale ethylene production is examined, leveraging existing robust process technologies to unlock fresh market and supply chain opportunities. Subsequently, the sustainability of plasma technology for green ethylene production is compared to conventional ethylene production and alternative green ethylene production methods, including biomass-based approaches. Contrary to perhaps optimistic expectations, current literature evidence does not uniformly favor the latter, indicating the potential for plasma-based green ethylene processes. Additionally, this paper underscores the importance of considering Environmental, Social, and Governance factors that influence business decisions. Finally, this review underscores plasma technology as a potentially promising approach for green ethylene synthesis from methane, offering unique advantages under normal conditions while simultaneously presenting scientific challenges. It assesses its viability for small-scale production and benchmarks its sustainability against conventional and alternative methods, emphasizing the importance of a sustainable future for the green petrochemical industry.

Originele taal-2Engels
Aantal pagina's18
TijdschriftRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Nummer van het tijdschriftPart B.
StatusGepubliceerd - jan. 2024


This work is supported from the ERC Synergy Grant “Surface-COnfined fast modulated Plasma for process and Energy intensification” (SCOPE), from the European Commission , with Grant No. 810182 .

European Commission810182
European Research Council


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