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Slash costs with this advanced sulfuric-acid alkylation process

By Gerald Ondrey |

Alkylate — the main component in high-octane gasoline — is produced by catalytic reaction of C3–C5 olefins with isobutane in the presence of strong acid catalyst. Although there has been progress in the use of solid-acid catalysts (see, for example, Chem. Eng., June 2013, p. 11; www.chemengonline.com/a-solid-acid-catalyst-alkylation-process-will-be-commercialized and www.chemengonline.com/cbi-announces-startup-of-solid-acid-catalyst-alkylation-unit), sulfuric-acid alkylation is becoming increasingly popular in recent years due to safety and environmental concerns with hydrofluoric-acid alkylation, says Amarjit Bakshi, president and CEO of Refining Hydrocarbon Technologies (RHT; Katy, Tex.; www.rhtgulfcoast.com). RHT has completed pilot testing and is now ready to commercialize its advanced sulfuric-acid alkylation process. The RHT process (flowsheet) is based on classical sulfuric-acid alkylation chemistry that has been used since the 1940s. However, the RHT process uses a unique mixing device that requires less energy and maintenance than alternative processes, and works at lower temperatures at essentially isothermal conditions, explains Bakshi. Low-temperature operation favors the formation of the desired high-octane product…
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