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This alkylation process uses an ionic liquid catalyst

By Gerald Ondrey |

A new alkylation technology that uses ionic liquids as a catalyst has been licensed by Honeywell UOP (Des Plaines, Ill.; www.uop.com), and will be marketed under the tradename Isoalkyl. The technology — developed by Chevron U.S.A. Inc., a subsidiary of Chevron Corp. (San Ramon, Calif.; www.chevron.com) — uses a non-aqueous liquid salt, at temperatures under 100°C, to convert a typical stream from a fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) unit into high-octane blending components for gasoline. Currently, most alkylation processes are based on hydrofluoric or sulfuric acid; more than half of the world’s 700 petroleum refineries have alkylation units that use HF or H2SO4, according to UOP. Ionic liquids have strong acid properties, enabling them to perform acid catalysis without the volatility of conventional acids, thus simplifying the handling procedures (see Chem. Eng., October 2015, pp. 18–24; www.chemengonline.com/ionic-liquids-create-sustainable-processes). These liquid salts upgrade low-value C4 paraffins (butanes) and other olefins into a high-value blend component that helps to offset the combinations of gasoline-pool vapor pressure, sulfur, octane, aromatic and olefin content limitations, says UOP. Catalyst consumption with…
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