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Styrene is an organic compound with the chemical formula C6H5CH=CH2. Styrene is a

colorless aromatic liquid. It is only very slightly soluble in water, but infinitely soluble in
alcohol and ether. In addition, styrene is chemically reactive with the most important reaction
being its polymerization to form polystyrene. Styrene can also copolymerize with other
monomers, such as butadiene and acrylonitrile, to produce a variety of industrially important

Oxidation of ethyl benzene to ethyl benzene hydro peroxide, which reacts with
propylene oxide, after which the alcohol is dehydrated to styrene.

Oxidation Process

Ethyl benzene is oxidized to hydro peroxide as follows:


The reaction takes place in a liquid phase with air bubbling through the liquid, no catalyst
needed for this reaction. Exposure to high temperature must be minimized to reduce the rate
of decomposition because hydro peroxides are unstable compounds. To reduce the production
of by-products, it is best if the reaction temperature is gradually reduced during the course of
the reaction. The pressure required for the reaction is around 800-1500kPa where the
reactants will remain at liquid phase.

Reaction is given below:



For this reaction, catalysts are compounds of metals e.g. molybdenum, tungsten, vanadium. The
conversion of ethyl benzene hydro peroxide is nearly complete, and selectivity of the reaction in
producing propylene oxide is greater than 70%. The alcohol can be dehydrated to styrene.

Montoro, a Spanish joint venture between Oxirane and Enpetrol, first commercializes the process in
1973. The plant had an annual capacity of 7.5*104 ton of styrene and 3*104 ton of propylene oxide.
The Oxirane plant in Channelview, Texas, set up in 1977 had a capacity of 2.25*10 5 ton annual