Electrified heating properties of carbon supports for propane dehydrogenation


  • Matthew Conlon, Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware

Faculty Mentor(s)

  • Yeonsu Kwak, Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware
  • Kewei Yu, Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware
  • Dionisios Vlachos, Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware


Microwave heating (MWH) presents itself as a potential electrified alternative to conventional furnace heating (CH)—particularly for use in gas-phase hydrocarbon reactions. One of the most relevant hydrocarbon reactions, propane dehydrogenation (PDH), has seen massive growth in recent years, thanks to the shale gas revolution and the far-reaching applications of propylene in several consumer and commercial products alike. MWH faces unique challenges, however, and the need for MW absorption combined with other desirable physical properties motivates the study of high surface area carbon-based sources for MW absorption, as opposed to the conventional non-porous silicon carbide (SiC). The carbons under study include different carbon blacks, due to their overall variety and versatility of properties, as well as existing catalysts that utilize carbon-based supports—a solution that avoids the issue of catalyst incorporation that both SiC and carbon blacks currently face. Our investigation aims to understand the temperature profiles under continuous and pulsed MW programs while investigating the dielectric properties of these carbon materials. Ultimately, we hope to correlate the structural properties of these materials and their heating capabilities. The interplay between material properties and thermal responses of carbon materials to MWs creates a complex, multi-dimensional space that can be difficult to model. However, by comprehending these responses, we seek to demonstrate the potential of these materials as efficient and effective heating elements. This approach can advance the electrified heating methods used in industrial applications. Additionally, our findings could contribute to electrified heterogeneous catalysis, facilitating progress toward more sustainable and innovative technologies. In the future, we hope to demonstrate a comparable performance of MWH to CH, using PDH as a model to underline the significant impact MWH could have on manufacturing industries at large.