The process of this invention represents an improved, low-energy method for recovering a purified ethylene product from the effluent of an autothermal cracking reactor. The process consists of a cracked gas chilling train, a front-end ethylene distributor, a demethanizer, and a C2 splitter. Hydrocarbons heavier than ethylene, including ethane, propylene, and propane are recycled in a single stream to the ATC reactor. Acetylene removal from the ethylene product can be accomplished either through a front-end hydrogenation unit or an acetylene extraction unit. This invention is particularly useful when the fresh hydrocarbon feed to the autothermal cracking reactor is ethane or a mixture of ethane and propane.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
 This invention was made with government support under United States Department of Energy Cooperative Agreement No. DE-FC07-01ID 14090.