Direct Observation of the Ethyl Radical in the Pyrolysis of Ethane

Nadav Genossar-Dan, Sharona Atlas, Dana Fux, Shani Har Lavan, Uri Zamir, Illya Rozenberg, Thanh Lam Nguyen, Patrick Hemberger, Joshua H. Baraban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the first direct detection of ethyl radical in the pyrolysis of ethane. Observation of this vital intermediate was made possible in this extremely reactive environment by the use of a microreactor coupled with synchrotron radiation and photoelectron photoion coincidence (PEPICO) spectroscopy, despite its short lifetime and low concentration. Together with ab-initio master equation-calculated rates and fully coupled computational fluid dynamics simulations, our measurements show that even under the low pressures and short residence times in our experiment, ethyl formation can only be explained by bimolecular reactions; the most important is the catalytic attack of ethane by H atoms, which are then regenerated by decomposition of the nascent ethyl radicals. Our results complete the observation of all hypothesized intermediates in this industrially important process and highlight the need for further studies under additional conditions using similar methods to improve existing models and optimize process chemistries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202305881
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number32
StatePublished - 7 Aug 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry (all)


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