In the present study, non-oxidative dehydrogenation of ethane was carried out by using conventional heated (CHRS) and microwave heated (MWHRS) reactor systems. Reactions were conducted in the presence of SBA-15 supported Cr or Mo catalysts, and the activity of the catalysts were evaluated in terms of ethane conversion and C2H4/H-2 ratio. The physicochemical properties of synthesized catalysts were determined by XRD, N-2 adsorption/desorption, ICP-OES, TPR, SEM, and EDS analysis. XRD pattern of reduced catalysts revealed the formation of metallic Mo and Eskolaite Cr2O3 over the catalysts. The mesoporous structure of SBA-15 was confirmed using N-2 adsorption/desorption analysis. Activity test results showed higher ethane conversion in the presence of Mo than Cr in both reactor systems. However, more side reaction took place over Mo than Cr based catalysts. Cr based catalyst showed better activity in terms of ethylene formation and C2H4/H-2 ratio. Results proved the superior performance of microwave heated reactor over the conventionally heated reactor. Significantly higher conversion was obtained over Cr based catalysts in MWHRS than CHRS due to the occurrence of micro-plasmas (hot spots) in the catalyst bed. The performance of 5Cr@SBA-15 in CHRS was poor due to negligible ethane conversion below 650 degrees C, while almost complete conversion could be achieved in MWHRS with this catalyst at identical conditions. The ethane conversion values obtained at 650 degrees C in CHRS were achieved at 450 degrees C, in MWHRS. (C) 2020 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.