1 June 2002
Gasoline made safer
Richland, Wash.A new solid acid catalyst may provide oil producers worldwide with a safer approach for refining unleaded gasoline with reasonably high octane.
The Silica Supported Solid Acid Catalyst eliminates the need for toxic and corrosive acids in the process of converting crude oil to gasoline, said researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Gasoline used in much of the Third World still contains lead, which can cause major health problems. Further, some current crude oil refinery processes use corrosive and dangerous sulfuric and hydrofluoric acids that would present a danger to the environment and the public if accidentally released.
The petrochemical industry has been seeking alternatives to create higher-octane unleaded gasoline without using liquid acids.
"The Silica Supported Solid Acid Catalyst can help refineries safely manufacture the component alkylate that can serve as a replacement for lead as an octane booster in gasoline," said Chuck Peden, associate director for the interfacial chemistry and engineering group.
"Alkylate lends excellent antiknock characteristics to unleaded gasoline, and the solid acid catalyst is highly efficient at synthesizing alkylate. These new catalysts also are noncorrosive and nonpoisonous, so they can be handled with minimal protective gear," Peden said.
UOP, Inc., a petrochemical industry supplier for 50 years, has been a partner with Pacific Northwest in developing these new catalysts.
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