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Comment Processing & Handling

HF alkylation unit converted for solid-bed alkylation of LAB

By Scott Jenkins |

In a first-of-its-kind endeavor, a hydrogen-fluoride-based alkylation unit producing linear alkyl benzene (LAB) is being converted into a solid-bed alkylation unit that employs UOP’s (Des Plaines, Ill.; www.uop.com) Detal-Plus alkylation technology for LAB. LAB is used in the production of a variety of detergent formulations.

Shifting to solid-bed alkylation technology eliminates the need for acid (HF) unloading, storage, regeneration and neutralization. In addition, maintenance costs will be lower and special acid handling training procedures and personal protective equipment will be eliminated.

The project is being undertaken at the Puente Mayorga LAB plant in San Roque, Spain. The facility is owned by Cepsa (Madrid, Spain; www.cepsa.com), which also owns an adjacent petroleum refinery. UOP has completed the basic engineering on the conversion, and Sacyr Fluor will complete the detailed engineering. The goal of plant owner Cepsa is to realize a capacity expansion for LAB production. The project involves the replacement of HF alkylation process equipment with UOP’s Detal Plus equipment, which is said to enable higher LAB selectivity, longer operating cycles and lower maintenance costs than alternative technologies.

The new Detal Plus unit will employ the latest generation of UOP’s ZDA-30 catalyst, which further improves LAB selectivity and reduces byproducts at lower capital and operating expenses than the previous generations of Detal catalysts, UOP says.

Cepsa plans to operate the HF detergent alkylation plant until the new Detal-Plus plant is ready for commissioning in 2020.

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