January 2019

Catalysts

Maximizing existing xylene loop profitability

Paraxylene (PX) separation is an energy-intensive process, as are most industrial chemical separations.

Sakaguchi, T., Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd.; Molinier, M., ExxonMobil

Paraxylene (PX) separation is an energy-intensive process, as are most industrial chemical separations.1,2 In an aromatics complex, the PX separation process and the largest fractionation columns3 are part of the xylene loop, making it the highest energy consumer in the plant. Therefore, maximizing the loop’s efficiency is critical. The xylene loop operates as follows: Reformate C8 aromatics containing approximately 20% PX are separated from heavier hydrocarbons in the xylene splitter PX is recovered via adsorption or crystallization, while the remaining C8 aromatics stream is processed in the vapor phase isomerization (VPI) unit, which converts ethylbenzene (EB) to benzene and para-dep

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