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Comment Processing & Handling

Commercialization is set for a new alkylation process

By Gerald Parkinson |

An improved sulfuric-acid alkylation process that reduces acid consumption by up to 50% from that of conventional processes will make its commercial debut in China. Developed by Lummus Technology, a CB&I company (The Woodlands, Tex.; www.cbi.com), the technology will be used by Ningbo Haiyue New Material Co. in a grassroots alkylation plant to be built near Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province. Scheduled for startup at the end of 2013, the plant will produce 600,000 metric tons (m.t.) per year of alkylate. The process is similar to standard sulfuric acid alkylation methods in that it uses H2SO4 to react light olefins (C3–C5) with isobutane to produce motor fuel alkylate (predominantly C8 material). The innovation is a contactor for mixing the acid and hydrocarbons. Conventional alkylation units use large impellers to mix the reactants, then separate the alkylate product from the acid emulsion. The product is purified by a series of acid and alkaline washes. In contrast, Lummus carries out the reaction in a large, vertical column, using proprietary packing to achieve efficient contacting between the components. The design of the contactor improves mass transfer over conventional alkylation and enables an easier separation of the…
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