Composite Ionic Liquid Alkylation
Ionikylation is a commercially proven, non-hazardous, non-corrosive, and environmentally friendly alkylation process that uses a proprietary composite ionic liquid as the catalyst and carbon steel equipment.
The Ionikylation process operating conditions (ambient temperatures and moderate pressures) and operating costs are comparable to traditional alkylation processes. Ionikylation has a higher yield and selectivity towards the formation of valuable and high octane compounds, such as trimethylpentanes, over traditional methods.
The composite ionic liquid catalyst is recycled and regenerated within the Ionikylation process. A very small amount of spent catalyst and solids are removed. More importantly, the spent catalyst and solids from the Ionikylation process are chemically benign matters which can be safely and easily disposed.
Ionikylation was first piloted in 2003 in a 20 tpy operation. In 2005, the Ionikylation catalyst was successfully used to retrofit an existing 65,000 tpy sulfuric acid alkylation unit. In 2013, the world's first greenfield Ionikylation unit was commissioned, having a capacity of 100,000 tpy. From 2018-2020, ten new Ionikylation units will be constructed and commissioned by Chinese state-owned refiners, with capacities ranging from 50,000 to 300,000 tpy.
Traditional Alkylation Technologies and Safety Factors
Traditional alkylation technologies consume large quantities of anhydrous hydrofluoric acid and sulfuric acid. Hydrofluoric acid is highly toxic and deleterious to the environment, and its leakage can form aerosols, which are lethal to biological life. Meanwhile, treatment costs of spent sulfuric acid catalysts are high and there are environmental hazards requiring special attention. Due to the corrosive nature of these strong acids, specialized and expensive operating equipment is also required, which severely impacts project economics.
Regulators around the world are taking serious action to protect the public. For example, China's Environmental Protection Ministry has imposed heavy penalties on alkylation operators with inadequate safe practices relating to spent sulfuric acid treatment. In the United States, the South Coast Air Quality Management District of California praised novel alkylation technologies in their ability to mitigate "safety concerns related to volatile acid vapor clouds and acid transportation."
In an era where environmental preservation and safety are top priorities, Ionikylation is the alkylation technology of choice.
Ionikylation offers the following advantages over conventional alternatives:
Many commercial units
Inherently safe process
Non-corrosive system: low-cost carbon steel equipment
Non-hazardous emissions and waste, reduced waste water
High catalyst activity, stable reactor operating system
High quality alkylate product (96-98 RON, chloride < 5ppm)
Integrated catalyst regeneration
Competitive energy consumption