The Polimeri/Lummus process is used to produce highquality phenol and acetone products from cumene. Alphamethylstyrene (AMS) and pharmaceutical-grade acetone can be produced as byproducts if required.
The process is based on air oxidation of cumene to cumene hydroperoxide (CHP) followed by acid-catalyzed decomposition of CHP to phenol and acetone. Fresh and recycle cumene is oxidized with air to produce CHP in a series of oxidizers (1) having a unique internal design that improves selectivity and enhances safety. Oxidate is then concentrated in two evaporation stages (2) and fed to a two-stage cleavage section (3) in which CHP is decomposed to phenol and acetone under precisely controlled conditions. AMS is also formed in this section from certain precursors present in the oxidate. The cleavage section effluent is neutralized (4) and then fractionated (5).
Acetone, cumene and AMS are taken overhead in a first distillation column and pure acetone is recovered from this stream. (If desired, acetone containing less than 50 ppm methanol can be produced for pharmaceutical applications.)
Cumene/AMS are fed to a hydrogenation system (6) in which AMS is hydrogenated to cumene. The hydrogenated hydrocarbons are recycled to the oxidizers. The bottoms from the first distillation column is further fractionated
to reject heavies. Extractive distillation (7) using a non-aqueous solvent is used to separate out the carbonyl impurities, producing highpurity phenol.
The technologies for both cumene oxidation and CHP decomposition minimize heavies formation and maximize conversion of by products into recyclable material. The process features flexible, integrated wastewater (8) and vent gas treatment systems, allowing the plant to conform to a wide variety of local, regional, national or international environmental regulations. Polimeri’s proprietary simulation software CheOpe Phenol allows for the monitoring and optimization of the oxidation and cleavage sections.
Licensor: Lummus Technology