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Fuels For The 21st Century

Fuel Sulfur Solutions Hydrogen Solutions MTBE Solutions Benzene Solutions

Making Premium Alkylate

with Your MTBE Unit
MTBE Solutions
As the future of MTBE remains uncertain, both producers
Meeting Growing Alkylate and users of MTBE are taking a closer look at alkylate.
Demand with Alkylene Alkylate is becoming recognized as the leading contender for
Technology MTBE replacement. From the gasoline producers point of
view, it has the ideal characteristics: It has high octane but no
aromatics, sulfur, or olefins, low vapor pressure and a wide
boiling range. From the MTBE producers point of view, it
has the significant advantage of requiring only a revamp of
an existing MTBE unit.

UOP offers four alkylation routes, three direct and one indi-
rect route to alkylate.

1. The Alkylene process for direct alkylation using a

solid catalyst to avoid the potential issues of a liquid
2. "Indirect alkylation," a new technology available as
UOP's InAlk process, produces alkylate via a differ-
ent chemistry.
3. Direct alkylation using hydrofluoric acid.
4. UOP also offers the Exxon Sulfuric Acid process for
direct alkylation.



Demand for alkylate will increase in the near future as a alkylate, but usually higher in octane. Control of the
result of more stringent gasoline specifications and con- polymerization conditions minimizes low-octane isomer
cerns about MTBE contamination of ground water. The production.
decision to ban MTBE in California starting in 2003
will force refiners there to look for a new source of CATALYST SELECTION
paraffinic gasoline blendstocks alkylate.
Either resin or solid phosphoric acid (SPA) catalysts are
UOPs Indirect Alkylation (InAlk) process uses com- used to polymerize the olefins. Resin catalyst primarily
mercial solid catalysts to convert mainly C4 but also C3 converts iso-butene. SPA catalyst also converts normal
and C5 olefins to alkylate. Inclusion of a dehydrogena- butenes. Hydrogenation uses either a base or noble
tion step can significantly increase alkylate production metal catalyst. Base-metal catalyst is less sensitive to
by producing additional olefins from butane. feed contaminants than noble-metal catalyst, but
requires a higher capital investment.
The InAlk process is an attractive, low-cost way to con-
vert refinery based MTBE units or dehydrogenation- MTBE COMPLEX REVAMP
based MTBE complexes to the production of premium MTBE complexes can be easily revamped to InAlk
alkylate. service with some minor changes to the MTBE section.
Figure 1 shows an MTBE complex that has been con-
The InAlk process:
verted to InAlk service.
J Improves gasoline quality by increasing the
availability of clean-burning, mid-boiling-range Figure 1
iso-paraffins. Inalk Complex Process Flow Scheme
J Upgrades low-value butanes to a premium paraf- H2

finic gasoline blendstock that is low in RVP and C3= - C5=

sulfur, with no aromatics or olefins.
Dehydrogenation Inalk Alkylate
J Uses standard hydrocarbon processing technology iC4=
and catalysts that require no special handling.
C4s C4s
J Enables low-cost retrofits of existing butane C4 Isom
C4 Recovery
and Treating
dehydrogenation or refinery MTBE units.
When resin catalyst is used for polymerization (Figure 2),
PROCESS DESCRIPTION the MTBE reactor section is reused. Oxygenate used to
The InAlk process makes premium alkylate using a attenuate and hydrate the resin is recovered in the exist-
combination of commercially proven technologies. ing oxygenate recovery section. An olefin saturation
Iso-butene, either from fluid catalytic cracking (FCC), unit is added to convert the column bottoms to alkylate
steam cracking, or butane dehydrogenation units, reacts and no MTBE is produced.
with itself or with other C3-C5 olefins via polymeriza-
tion. The resulting mixture of higher molecular weight With SPA catalyst (Figure 3), the existing MTBE reactor
iso-olefins is then hydrogenated to form a high-octane section volume is usually sufficient to achieve high
paraffinic gasoline blendstock that is similar to conversion of iso-butene. Additional catalyst volume is

Print This Tech Sheet

Figure 2 required to ECONOMICS
MTBE Revamp to InAlk with Resin convert nor- The economics for converting butane dehydrogenation
mal butenes. plants from MTBE to alkylate production are very favor-
Recycle Oxygenate
No oxygenate able. These economics compare converting the plant to
Unreacted C4
Section Hydrocarbons recovery sec- InAlk service to halting MTBE production. Alkylate is
tion is needed valued at octane value.
or Trays
with SPA cata-
Ends lyst and no Alkylate Economics
Section Saturation
MTBE is pro-
MTBE Complex InAlk Complex
Alkylate Product
Material bal- Today Future Resin SPA
Figure 3
ances for
MTBE Revamp to InAlk with SPA Revenue, $MM/yr 189 0 102 102
Unreacted C4
alkylate pro-
Hydrocarbons Variable + fixed cost, 100 - 68 67
duction from a $MM/yr
butane dehy- After tax profit, 53 0 19 20
Olefins drogenation
or Trays
H2 Ends

plant are Olefin Capital investment, - - 7.7 7.0
Section Saturation
shown in the Unit
following Alkylate Product
Payback, years - - 0.4 0.3
table. Product
octane can vary somewhat, depending on the flow scheme EXPERIENCE
and overall conversion desired. The InAlk process produces high quality alkylate from
olefins and is a simple extension of UOPs catalytic con-
Butane Conversion densation and olefin saturation technologies. UOP has
MTBE InAlk Complex licensed and designed more than 400 catalytic condensa-
Complex Resin SPA tion units for the production of polygasoline and petro-
Feed chemical olefins and more than 200 hydrogenation units
Field butanes, BPSD 17,570 17,570 17,570 of various types. UOP offers the Oleflex process to
Methanol, BPSD 6,030 - - dehydrogenate butanes to butene and propane to propy-
lene. Twelve Oleflex units have been licensed. Nine units
are currently in operation and three others are in design.
MTBE, BPSD 17,700 - -
C5+ alkylate, BPSD - 11,570 11,850 The InAlk technology has been chosen by companies in
Hydrogen, MMSCFD 13 8 7
North America, Asia and the Middle East for the produc-
Product properties tion of premium alkylate.
RONC 118 99 101
MONC 100 97 96
For more information, contact your UOP representative or
UOP at:
Phone: 847-391-2000
Fax: 847-391-2253


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This information is not to be taken as a warranty or representation for which UOP
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assumes legal responsibility nor as permission or recommendation to practice any
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