The New Wave of Alkylation Activity in the U.S. – Options and Economics

There is a new wave of interest in alkylation projects currently in the U.S. refineries and beyond. Butanes are in cheap supply and octane value is high.Economics are driving projects towards alkylating available olefins streams as a way to bolster octane in the gasoline pool and to maximize profit.There are several alkylation projects that have been announced or are under study.These projects range from revamping existing units in refineries to constructing stand-alone grassroots facilities that are not located at a refinery, but near key NGL processing and storage facilities.This paper will review the economics driving this interest and provide an overview of the various alkylation technologies (i.e. sulfuric acid, HF, solid catalyst) and various unit configurations that are under study.Burns & McDonnell has significant experience with alkylation projects and specific examples will be given to provide a clear understanding.