Ethylbenzene Process by Lummus Technology and UOP LLC

State-of-the-art technology to produce high-purity ethylbenzene (EB) by liquid-phase alkylation of benzene with ethylene. The Lummus/UOP EBOne process uses specially formulated, proprietary zeolite catalyst from UOP. The process can handle a range of ethylene feed compositions ranging from chemical grade (70% ethylene/30% ethane) to polymer grade (100%).


Benzene and ethylene are reacted over a proprietary zeolite catalyst in a fixed-bed, liquid-phase reactor. Fresh benzene is combined with recycle benzene and fed to the alkylation reactor (1). The combined benzene feed flows in series through the beds, while fresh ethylene feed is distributed between the beds. The reaction is highly exothermic, and heat is removed between the reaction stages by generating steam. Unreacted benzene is recovered from the overhead of the benzene column (3), and EB product is taken as overhead from the EB column (4).

A small amount of polyethylbenzene (PEB) is recovered in the overhead of the PEB column (5) and recycled back to the transalkylation reactor (2) where it is combined with benzene over a proprietary zeolite catalyst to produce additional EB product. A small amount of flux oil is recovered from the bottom of the PEB column (5) and is usually burned as fuel.

The catalysts are non-corrosive and operate at mild conditions, allowing for all carbon-steel construction. The reactors can be designed for 2– 7 year catalyst cycle length, and the catalyst is fully regenerable. The process does not produce any hazardous effluent.

Yields and product quality: Both the alkylation and trans-alkylation reactions are highly selective, producing few byproducts. The EB product has a high purity (99.9 wt% minimum) and is suitable for styrene unit feed. Xylene make is less than 10 ppm. The process has an overall yield of more than 99.7%.

Licensor: Lummus Technology and UOP LLC

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