Competitive Adsorption of Xylenes at Chemical Equilibrium in Zeolites

S.A. Caro Ortiz, Erik Zuidema, Marcello Rigutto, D. Dubbeldam, T.J.H. Vlugt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The separation of xylenes is one of the most important processes in the petrochemical industry. In this article, the competitive adsorption from a fluid-phase mixture of xylenes in zeolites is studied. Adsorption from both vapor and liquid phases is considered. Computations of adsorption of pure xylenes and a mixture of xylenes at chemical equilibrium in several zeolite types at 250 °C are performed by Monte Carlo simulations. It is observed that shape and size selectivity entropic effects are predominant for small one-dimensional systems. Entropic effects due to the efficient arrangement of xylenes become relevant for large one-dimensional systems. For zeolites with two intersecting channels, the selectivity is determined by a competition between enthalpic and entropic effects. Such effects are related to the orientation of the methyl groups of the xylenes. m-Xylene is preferentially adsorbed if xylenes fit tightly in the intersection of the channels. If the intersection is much larger than the adsorbed molecules, p-xylene is preferentially adsorbed. This study provides insight into how the zeolite topology can influence the competitive adsorption and selectivity of xylenes at reaction conditions. Different selectivities are observed when a vapor phase is adsorbed compared to the adsorption from a liquid phase. These insight have a direct impact on the design criteria for future applications of zeolites in the industry. MRE-type and AFI-type zeolites exclusively adsorb p-xylene and o-xylene from the mixture of xylenes in the liquid phase, respectively. These zeolite types show potential to be used as high-performing molecular sieves for xylene separation and catalysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4155-4174
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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