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Optimal design of catalytic distillation for alkylation of isobutane with 2-butene on a solid catalyst

Chimica oggi 33(4) 2015

Alkylation of isobutane with butenes is one of the most important processes making high octane number gasoline. Highly exothermicity requires efficient heat removal. Low temperature implies application of strong (sulphuric and hydrofluoric) acids as catalysts albeit inherent corrosion, pollution and safety problems. The difficulty in applying alternative solid alkylation catalysts is related to deactivation by coking. In order to minimize deactivation an excess of olefin is required. Catalytic distillation, combining reaction and separation, could be proposed to considerably reduce the isobutane recycle and simultaneously to ensure high butenes conversion. Detailed simulations for reactive distillation in a zeolite catalysed alkylation of isobutane with butane were conducted. Various options regarding placement of the reaction section were considered and optimal conditions determined.