as an alkene, ethene (or ethylene).
is the chemical compound with the formula C2H4. It is the simplest alkene.
Because it contains a double bond, ethylene is called an unsaturated
hydrocarbon or an olefin.
are also referred to as "olefins" due to their oil-forming characteristics.
The location of the double bond determines the reactivity site, or
functional group property.
Production and Process
is produced in the petrochemical industry by steam cracking.
process, gaseous or light liquid hydrocarbons are heated to 750–950 °C,
inducing numerous free radical reactions followed by immediate quench to
freeze the reactions. This process converts large hydrocarbons into smaller
ones and introduces unsaturation. Ethylene is separated from the resulting
complex mixture by repeated compression and distillation.
can be conveniently produced in the laboratory by distilling absolute
ethanol with an excess of concentrated sulfuric acid and washing the
distillate vapor stream in an aqueous solution of sodium hydroxide to remove
the sulfur dioxide contaminant.
quantities of dilute ethylene can be obtained from refinery streams. In
South Africa, ethylene is produced by the Fisher-Tropsch process from gases
obtained by coal gasification.
have been made to develop processes which can crack crude or residual oil
but they suffer from high operating costs.
may also be produced from ethanol in fixed or fluid-bed reaction systems.
is a naturally produced gas that is the ripening trigger for most fruit,
vegetables, flowers and ornamentals. It is therefore an important factor to
be considered in the management strategy when storing these products.
plays a role in the postharvest life of many horticultural crops.
application of ethylene at a controlled rate means that the products can be
presented to the customer as “ready to eat”.
is used as a raw material in the production of plastics, fibers and other
organic chemicals that are ultimately consumed in the packaging,
transportation and construction industries and in a multitude of industrial
and consumer markets.
As one of
the largest-volume petrochemicals worldwide with such a diverse derivative
portfolio, ethylene is often used as a surrogate for the performance of the
petrochemical industry at large. As such, ethylene demand is sensitive to
both economic and energy cycles.
ethylene production amounted to about 110 million metric tons, with an
estimated value of $122 billion.
demand for ethylene is forecast to grow 4.6% per year during 2006-2011, and
then slow to 3.4% from 2011 through 2016. The largest world market for
ethylene is the production of polymers, principally polyethylenes. During
2006–2011, polyethylenes will continue to be the largest consumer of
ethylene and are expected to grow by 4.2% per year.
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