Alkylate-an important high-octane blendstock-is used to produce gasoline that meets current stringent environmental standards. Refiners are seeking improvements in alkylation technology. While some hope for a solid-catalyst processes, such catalysts are not commercialized. Hydrofluoric acid (HF) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4) are the most common alkylation catalysts. However, new catalysts are available. Such developments are estimated to increase alkylation octane and production levels, while addressing safety concerns over current alkylation catalysts. The following case history explains the possible advantages-octane production, reduced risks and lowered operating costs-by using such technologies in new or existing alkylation processing units.
ISSUES AFFECTING FUEL PRODUCTION
Worldwide environmental regulations mandate severe reductions in allowable levels of aromatics, olefins, benzene, sulfur and vapor pressure for fuels. These directives will affect gasoline components and blending. Concerns over gasoline oxygenates such as methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and its analogs are rising over these compounds and their potential adverse health effects and groundwater contamination. Consequently, usage of oxygenates will be restricted by future regulation. Currently, California plans to phase out MTBE as a gasoline-oxygenate blendstock by Jan. 1, 2003. Unfortunately, other states and/or countries may follow similar agendas.