Towards Inherently Safer Processes: Alkylation of Isobutane and n-Butene

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The alkylation production first started in the late 1930s and early 1940s with collaborative efforts by several American companies. Currently, 13 – 15 % of the refined gasoline pool is made up of these C8 alkylates (Albright, 2003). In this study, we have evaluated if it is possible to develop inherently safer and economically competitive alkylation processes, by replacing traditional mineral acid catalysts, such as, hydrofluoric acid (HF) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4) with benign solid acid catalyst, such as, zeolites. We have adopted a multi-scale research approach to study zeolite catalyzed alkylation of isobutene and n-butene. This requires, understanding the events at catalyst scale, reactor scale and process scale. It is recommended that the optimal catalyst design and operating condition will lead to alkylate yields that can be maintained on stream for long time to justify the commercialization of zeolite catalyzed alkylation processes.

Reference

Albright, L. F. Alkylations Industrial. In Encyclopedia of Catalysis; Howath, I. T., Ed.; John Wiley and Sons: New York, 2003; Vol. 1, pp 226-281.

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