Published December 1983
Long-chain linear primary alcohols, those with six or more carbon atoms, have long been made from natural products such as coconut oil or tallow. Linear primary alcohols with 12-15 carbon atoms are used as intermediates for making a variety of synthetic detergents. Linear primary alcohols with 6-11 carbon atoms are used for making plasticizers. (Branched alcohols with 6-13 carbon atoms are also used for plasticizers.) These "plasticizer alcohols" and "detergent alcohols" can also be made synthetically from petroleum-based raw materials such as ethylene, wax, or kerosene.
Detergent alcohols are the subject of this report. Plasticizer alcohols are not included. (Plasticizer alcohols made by the 0x0 process are included in Process Economics Program Report s 21, 21A, and 21B.)
This report focuses on two coconut-oil-based processes and two synthetic processes- one based on ethylene oligomerization and one based on linear olefin hydroformylation. Processes for making fatty alcohols from coconut oil are evaluated in Sections 4 and 5 of this report. Processes for making alcohols by hydroformylation, given in Section 6, are updates of processes reported in Process Economics Program (PEP) Report 21A. The raw materials for these processes are linear alpha olefins or linear internal olefins, made by processes originally reported in PEP Reports 12, 12A, and 12Bl. The processes for making alcohols by a Ziegler process of ethylene oligomerization, originally described in PEP Report 27, are updated in Section 7 of this report.
We have followed the development of detergent alcohol processes for the past 16 years in PEP. For this report, we have selected appropriate information and updated previous evaluations with information obtained from published articles, reference books, process licensers, brochures, and patents issued through August 1983.