By Bill Kirk
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These are typically radical combination reactions which occur at very low activation energies, hence are immediate when radicals meet, for example the reaction of a vinyl and a hydrogen radical to form ethylene. . C2H3 + H = C2H4 Note that in radical chain processes, ethylene is produced by a series of reactions. 1 lists some of the more important reactions in the cracking of propane. This table illustrates that even for small molecules, the chain initiation, propagation and termination reactions are extensive.
Al-Sa’doun, Oil & Gas Journal, Nov. 13, 2000, p. 52 3 A. M. Aitani, Oil & Gas Journal, Jul. , Jan 2, 2006, p. 52 and Jan 9, 2006, p. H. M. Aubury, X. Hurstel, , Oil & Gas Journal, Jan. 19, 2004, p. 60; A. Aik, S. Adibi, ibid. Mar. 26, 2007, p. 48 5 T. Chang, Oil & Gas Journal, Aug 20, 2001, p. 72 6 See also G. Kin, Hydrocarbon Asia, Jul/Aug 2006, p. 48 7 Wang Yong, Hydrocarbon Asia, Sep. 16 8 J. W. King, Oil & Gs Journal, Feb. 11, 2002, p. , Hydrocarbon Asia, Jul/Aug 2005, p. , Nov/Dec 2002, p.
This table illustrates that even for small molecules, the chain initiation, propagation and termination reactions are extensive. All possible products can be formed, but again the direct conversion reactions are absent, namely propane to propylene and hydrogen, or propane to ethylene and methane. Another key point to note is that chain transfer and termination by radical combination leads to radicals and molecules with more carbon atoms than the feed (propane). Subsequent involvement of these moieties in the radical chain propagation leads to larger molecules.