OPEN 2015
Des Plaines, Illinois
Project Term:
03/01/2016 - 02/28/2018

Technology Description:

The team led by Gas Technology Institute (GTI) will develop a conventional automotive engine as a reactor to convert ethane into ethylene by using a new catalyst and reactor design that could enable record-breaking conversion yields. The technology proposed by GTI would use a reciprocating engine as a variable volume oxidative dehydrogenation (ODH) reactor. This means a conventional engine would be modified with a new valving mechanism that would take advantage of high flow rates and high pressure and temperature regime that already exists in an internal combustion engine. This process requires no energy input, does produce minimal CO2 emissions, and improves yields to about 80% at one third the cost. The ODH reactor engine’s relatively small size and high throughput will enable ethylene producers to add ethylene production capacity without the financial risk of building a billion-dollar steam cracking plant. This technology will reduce energy-related emissions and could enable the U.S. plastics industry to increase utilization of low-cost, domestic ethane to produce ethylene for plastics.

Potential Impact:

If successful, the reactor engine developed by GTI would significantly reduce CO2 emissions associated with ethylene production and increase the global competitiveness of the U.S. plastics industry by reducing infrastructure costs and risks.


The team’s innovation could enhance the domestic supply of ethylene for decades to come


This technology will reduce CO2 emissions in ethylene production.


The reactor engine developed would allow the U.S. plastics industry to produce plastic at a much lower cost and without the need to build extremely large and expensive plants.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Christopher Atkinson
Project Contact:
Mr. Devin Halliday
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


EcoCatalytic Technologies
Oregon State University

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