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DuPont discusses on-purpose alkylation

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The current high value of alkylate presents refineries with a number of ways to capitalise on the low cost of typical and non-traditional feedstocks alike. This was the main thrust of a presentation given on 11 May at the 2016 International Downstream Week in Madrid by Matthew Clingerman, Regional Engineering Manager at DuPont Clean Technologies. Clingerman had been invited to speak to the delegates of the International Downstream Technology Strategy Conference on the topic of technologies and strategies for clean fuels.

“Refiners today are operating in an unprecedented landscape of abundant, cheap butanes and LPG due to advances in fracking technology in upstream oil and gas assets,” he said. “This surplus of butanes and LPG coupled with the high value of alkylate in the marketplace opens up a range of possibilities in terms of refinery configuration that were never considered economically viable options in the past.”

Typically, the alkylation process converts low value mixed butylene, propylene and/or amylene feed streams from the FCC, MTBE or coker units into a high value alkylate product. Today, however, many refineries are exploring the option of 'on-purpose alkylation' or 'butane to alkylate' by introducing a dehydrogenation unit followed by an alkylation unit. In this scenario, butane or LPG feeds are purchased at a significant discount on the open market, then processed in a dehydrogenation unit, which removes hydrogen from the feed stream to produce a 100% olefin feed stream. This pure olefin feed stream is then converted into high value alkylate in the alkylation unit.

In his presentation, attended by around 60 delegates, Clingerman highlighted the ability of the alkylation unit to process traditional mixed olefin feed streams as well as feeds comprised of 100% isobutylene, 100% amylene and very high concentrations of propylene, thus allowing refineries to generate value while minimising their environmental footprint and energy consumption. He cited numerous examples of refineries that had made the switch to STRATCO® Alkylation technology to achieve more profitable operations.

Adapted from press release by Rosalie Starling

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