3726. WIRGES, M. F., AND PALM, J. W. Production of Chemicals by Oxidation of Natural-Gas Hydrocarbons. Oil Gas Jour., vol. 48, No. 1, 1949, pp. 90, 92, 114; Petrol. Processing, vol. 4, No. 6, 1949, pp. 677-678.
Paper presented at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers meeting at Tulsa. Direct oxidation of natural-gas hydrocarbons is used for the commercial production of substantial quantities of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, methanol, acetone, and other chemicals. The methods used in carrying out the various steps in the oxidation process are discussed by help of a flow sheet. The important variables in the process are temperature, pressure, makeup composition, recycle, catalyst, and reaction time. These variables are discussed and data concerning their effects on the reaction are presented. Use of a recycle system with commercial O2 at elevated pressures instead of atmospheric induces increased yields (102% increase) of CH2O. The preferred temperature range is 840°-880° F. Natural gas added as makeup in the recycle system gives optimum chemical yields within the range of 5-20% makeup. The reaction time is usually from 0.25-2 sec. Catalysts must be selected carefully.