Atomic-Level Simulation Study of n-Hexane Pyrolysis on Silicon Carbide Surfaces

MSJ Sajib and M Sarnieegohar and T Wei and K Shing, LANGMUIR, 33, 11102-11108 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b03102

Ethylene production plays' a key role in the petrochemical industry. The severe operation conditions of ethylene thermal cracking, such as high temperature and coke-formation, pose challenges for the development of new corrosion-resistant and coking-resistant materials for ethylene reactor radiant coils tubes (RCTs). We investigated the performance of ceramic materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) in severe pyrolysis conditions by using reactive force field molecular dynamics (ReaxFF MD) simulation method. Our results indicate that beta-SiC surface remains fully stable at 1500 K, whereas increased temperature results in melted interface. At 2500 K, frilly grown cross-linked-graphene-like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon coking structure on SiC surfaces was observed. Such coking was particularly severe in the carbon-side of the surface slab. The coking structures were mainly derived from surface atoms at the initial 3.0 ns, as a result of the loss of interfacial hydroxyl layer and further hydrothermal corrosion. The SiC substrate surface enhances the ethylene cracking rate and also leads to different intermediate- state compounds. Our fundamental research will have significant and broad impact on both petrochemical industry and academic research in materials science, petrochemistry, and combustion chemistry.

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