Intensified Alkenyl Benzenes Production via Modular Redox Dehydrogenation

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OPEN 2021
Raleigh, North Carolina
Project Term:
08/01/2022 - 07/31/2025

Critical Need:

Alkenyl benzenes such as styrene and divinylbenzene (DVB) are important building blocks for rubber, plastics, and resin production. State-of-the-art dehydrogenation (DH)-based styrene production technology is highly energy intensive and complex and lacks the flexibility to produce DVB, whose production technologies suffers from similar limitations. Although styrene and DVB are often used together or to generate related products, current industrial production of these chemicals is based on different methods rather than using a single product-flexible technology.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

North Carolina State University (NC State) will develop transformative, autothermal Redox-Dehydrogenation (RDH) technology to flexibly produce a variety of alkenyl benzenes in modular packed beds with integrated air separation and greatly simplified product separation. Styrene alone represents a market of over $50 billion/year and its production emits more than 27 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). NC State aims to demonstrate the feasibility and attractiveness of the RDH technology and its ability to reduce energy consumption, operating costs, energy, and CO2 emissions for styrene and other alkenyl benzenes. With the rapid growth in DVB demands, the RDH technology has the potential to capture a >$70 billion/year market while reducing the related CO2 emissions by 25 million tons each year.

Potential Impact:

The NC State team plans to reduce the operating cost, energy consumption, and CO2 emission for styrene (and other alkenyl benzenes) production by >75% compared with state-of-the-art dehydrogenation technology.


The modular design for RDH also allow for rapid swings in product type and production capacity, making the system highly flexible and profitable to adapt to market needs.


The technology offers a four-fold decrease in energy consumption and CO2 emissions.


The technology provides a three-fold increase in operating profit vs. the commercial DH process.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jack Lewnard
Project Contact:
Prof. Fanxing Li
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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