Sohio Acrylonitrile Process

Acry­loni­trile is used to pro­duce plas­tics that are imper­me­able to gases and are ideal for shat­ter­proof bot­tles that hold chem­i­cals and cos­met­ics, clear “blis­ter packs” that keep meats fresh and med­ical sup­plies ster­ile, and pack­ag­ing for many other prod­ucts. It is also a com­po­nent in plas­tic resins, paints, adhe­sives, and coat­ings. The acry­loni­trile in those prod­ucts was made by a process dis­cov­ered and devel­oped in the 1950s by sci­en­tists and engi­neers at The Stan­dard Oil Com­pany, or Sohio.

In 1957, Sohio researchers devel­oped the “Sohio Acry­loni­trile Process,” an inno­v­a­tive single-step method of pro­duc­tion that made acry­loni­trile avail­able as a key raw mate­r­ial for chem­i­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing world­wide. Sohio’s ground­break­ing exper­i­men­ta­tion and bold engi­neer­ing brought plen­ti­ful, inex­pen­sive, high-purity acry­loni­trile to the mar­ket, a prin­ci­pal fac­tor in the evo­lu­tion and dra­matic growth of the acrylic plas­tics and fibers indus­tries. Today, nearly all acry­loni­trile is pro­duced by the Sohio process, and cat­a­lysts devel­oped at the War­rensville Lab­o­ra­tory are used in acry­loni­trile plants around the world. Sohio became part of The British Petro­leum Com­pany p.l.c. in 1987. The acry­loni­trile man­u­fac­tur­ing and cat­a­lyst and licens­ing busi­nesses are now part of INEOS.

The process is a single-step direct method for man­u­fac­tur­ing acry­loni­trile from propy­lene, ammo­nia, and air over a flu­idized bed cat­a­lyst. Today, nearly all acry­loni­trile is pro­duced by the Sohio process, and cat­a­lysts devel­oped at the War­rensville Lab­o­ra­tory are used in acry­loni­trile plants around the world. James L. Calla­han, a research asso­ciate at Sohio, coor­di­nated cat­a­lyst research and devel­op­ment, includ­ing the dis­cov­ery of improved meth­ods of cat­a­lyst man­u­fac­ture. James D. Idol, Jr., a research asso­ciate who super­vised and car­ried out research and fea­si­bil­ity test­ing, holds the basic patent for the process.
 
For more details, see the ACS Edu­ca­tional Por­tal: The Sohio Acry­loni­trile Process
Con­tributed by ACS