Process Economics Program Report 88A
Alkylation for Motor Fuels
Published: February 1993
Alkylation has become an important refinery process because of increasing demand for high octane and low vapor pressure gasoline blending components. It will play an even more important role in meeting the reformulated gasoline requirements established by the 1990 U.S. Clean Air Act. This is because alkylate does not contain any of the problem components that are being regulated, e.g., olefins and aromatics. This report covers the technology and economics of sulfuric acid and hydrofluoric acid processes and a hypothetical solid catalyst alkylation process. Solid catalyst alkylation processes are being researched as a response to the potential ban of HF acid use because of increasing concern in the United States (especially the Los Angeles basin) about the potential environmental and safety risks. We evaluate the technology and economics associated with the likely characteristics of a solid catalyst alkylation process.
The flexibility of alkylation in producing a high quality gasoline blending component is evaluated for three types of alkylation unit feedstocks: FCC butenes (the most common feedstock worldwide), FCC propylene and butenes mix (a less prevalent feedstock, particularly outside the United States), and MTBE raffinate/FCC C5 olefins (a feedstock that will become more common in the United States).
This report will be of value to refinery owners and operators worldwide, who will have to respond to the public's demand for cleaner fuels and safer processes.