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Alkylate process featuring a solid-acid catalyst can use multiple feedstocks

By Scott Jenkins |

A recently announced process based on a novel solid-acid catalyst is effective at producing high-quality alkylate from a variety of feedstocks, including methanol. Technology developer Exelus Inc. (Fairfield, N.J.; www.exelusinc.com) says its technology converts methanol and mixed-butanes to high-octane alkylate. The process, known as M2Alk, is designed to enable petroleum refiners to process lighter natural-gas-derived feeds. At current U.S. methanol and butane prices, M2Alk produces high-octane alkylate well below current gasoline prices. Alkylate, a major component of modern gasoline that burns cleanly and reduces “knocking” in engines, is conventionally produced by reacting isobutane contained in mixed butanes with C3 to C5 olefins using liquid-acid catalysts, such as HF or H2SO4. Because of the large volumes of liquid acids required and the associated safety and environmental risks, considerable R&D has been aimed at developing solid-acid catalysts for alkylation. Exelus’ technology uses a proprietary solid-acid catalyst, called ExSact-E, that facilitates the reaction of isobutane with a variety of light olefins, including ethylene, which cannot be alkylated with liquid-acid catalysts. The ExSact-E catalyst is an engineered…
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