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.