PEP Review 84-2-2
Secondary Butyl Alcohol via Direct Hydration
Published: August 1985
This report evaluates a Deutsche Texaco process for a new secondary butyl alcohol (SBA) plant that uses a direct hydration process similar to one the company had developed for isopropanol. A mixed butene stream, which is available as an MTBE raffinate, is the preferred feedstock for this process. From our analysis, SRI believes the new process technology constitutes a considerable improvement over the conventional hydration process using sulfuric acid. Direct hydration promises lower utilities and investment costs.
The conversion of mixed butenes in the direct hydration process is limited by low conversion per pass. Because it is expensive to recover butenes from mixed butylene streams, the commercial opportunities are best when the unconverted butenes can be fed to an alkylation unit.
Most SBA is used to make methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). When the direct hydration process is substituted for the conventional hydration process in making MEK, considerable savings in the MEK product value accrue depending on plant capacity.