Alkylation

In a standard oil refinery process, isobutane is alkylated with low-molecular-weight alkenes (primarily a mixture of propylene and butylene) in the presence of a strong acid catalyst, either sulfuric acid or hydrofluoric acid. In an oil refinery it is referred to as a sulfuric acid alkylation unit (SAAU) or a hydrofluoric alkylation unit, (HFAU). Refinery workers may simply refer to it as the alkyl or alkyl unit. The catalyst protonates the alkenes (propylene, butylene) to produce reactive carbocations, which alkylate isobutane. The reaction is carried out at mild temperatures (0 and 30 °C) in a two-phase reaction. It is important to keep a high ratio of isobutane to alkene at the point of reaction to prevent side reactions which produces a lower octane product, so the plants have a high recycle of isobutane back to feed. The phases separate spontaneously, so the acid phase is vigorously mixed with the hydrocarbon phase to create sufficient contact surface.

Alkylation Pumps

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