This study presents a novel combination of microwave irradiation and structured zeolite/SiC foam catalyst to improve the methanol-to-hydrocarbons (MTH) process as well as its environmental sustainability. Accordingly, ZSM-5/SiC foam was studied under microwave irradiation at various reaction temperatures (400–550 °C) and space velocities (8 and 12 h−1) and compared to conventional ZSM-5 pellets. ZSM-5/SiC foam promoted higher selectivity towards C1−C5 hydrocarbons (∼95%) and particularly propylene (∼40% at 400 °C and 8 h−1) compared to ZSM-5 pellets (∼40% and 6–9%, respectively) due to the enhanced mass and heat transfers. The microwave-assisted MTH process with both the structured catalyst and pellets was also assessed on the environmental sustainability via life cycle assessment in comparison with the conventionally-heat process with the structured catalyst. The results showed that the microwave-based process with the structured catalyst could reduce the environmental impacts of propylene production by 22–30% compared to the conventionally-heated process with the same catalyst.
- Structured catalyst
- SiC foam
- Methanol-to-hydrocarbons (MTH)
- Life cycle assessment (LCA)