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STAR, the acronym for STeam Active Reforming, is a commercially established technology for the dehydrogenation of light paraffins, such as propane or butane. Initially developed by Phillips Petroleum Company, Bartlesville, OK, USA, Uhde acquired the technology with the process know-how and all patents related to the process and catalyst from Phillips in December 1999.

In the period from 2000 to 2003 Uhde (now thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions) significantly increased the performance of the STAR process by adding an oxydehydrogenation step which enhances the process economics in terms of investment and operating costs.

Dehydrogenation is an endothermic equilibrium reaction. Paraffin conversion increases with decreasing pressure and increasing temperature:

C3H8  C3H6 + H2      Propane dehydrogenation (PDH)

C4H10  C4H8 + H2     Butane dehydrogenation (BDH)

If part of the hydrogen generated is reacted with oxygen admitted to the system, H2O is formed and the equilibrium of the reaction shifts to the right, i.e. to increased paraffin conversion. This is technically achieved by combining the reactor of the conventional steam active reforming process - the steam reformer - in series with an additional oxydehydrogenation section using the same catalyst for both sections.

Long-term pilot plant operation for the dehydrogenation of C3-C5 paraffins to their corresponding olefins was carried out at Phillips' research facilities in Bartlesville, OK, USA. This confirmed the design parameters, catalyst activity, catalyst selectivity and catalyst lifetime.

STAR process is commercially available through thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions for the following applications:

oxydehydrogenation of propane to produce high-purity propylene as feedstock for polypropylene,
propylene oxide and other propylene derivatives
oxydehydrogenation of butane / isobutane to butenes / isobutene for the production of alkylate,
isooctane, MTBE, polybutylenes and other chemicals
oxydehydrogenation for the production of alkylates
oxydehydrogenation for the production of dimers.

STAR process is a trademark of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG, Dortmund, Germany.
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