Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2017

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Chemical Engineering (MChE)


Chemical Engineering


Thomas J. Schwartz

Second Committee Member

M. Clayton Wheeler

Third Committee Member

Adriaan Van Heiningen


Butadiene is an important building block in industrial polymer synthesis that can be obtained from biomass resources. A reduction in the volume of naphtha cracking in recent years in the United States has led to a potential domestic butadiene shortage. Consequently, there has recently been a resurgence of interest in the production of butadiene from ethanol, which can be obtained from biomass. This route remains poorly explained with many inconsistent mechanisms having been proposed. In this study, we propose a model that includes the mechanisms of two of the key reactions in the Lebedev reaction. Through this work, we illustrate the outcomes of reaction kinetics measurements made for two key reactions: the dehydrogenation and dehydration of ethanol to yield acetaldehyde and ethylene, respectively. Additionally, this work further investigates the effects of catalyst preparation and morphology on the product distribution by using a 0.5%MgO/SBA-15 catalyst for reaction performed at different temperatures. The proposed mechanisms of dehydration and dehydrogenation steps further provide a basic understanding for the essential site requirements to achieve high selectivity to butadiene. Ultimately, this work will serve as a background to future work for significant understanding and proceeding the potential remaining steps forward to produce butadiene.