Alkylation unit

Project number: 
UA Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Academic year: 
A gasoline refinery in the Gulf Coast area produces 130,000 barrels per stream day of regular 87 octane and 93 premium grades. It originally used a methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) system as its means of alkylation. However, the use of MTBE has been phased out in the United States due to its damaging effects to the environment.

The team designed a replacement unit with a solid-acid catalyst as the means of alkylation. Solid phosphoric acid is used because it is the least harmful for the environment and handling. This technology achieved the high octane yield necessary for gasoline production. Current market behavior analysis was incorporated to maximize profit by selectively choosing the amount of each grade to produce. The design uses distillation towers for separation, heat exchangers to achieve operating conditions, and pumps to deliver material at desired rates. Simulation tools were used to quantify the process based on its thermodynamic and mass transfer properties.

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