Evidence of an Induction Period in the Alkylation of Isobutane by 2-Butene

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The ionic liquid catalyzed alkylation of 2-butene with deuterated isobutane was studied in a continuous flow equipment. Product analyses with time and deuterated distribution determinations were obtained. It is found that the induction period of ionic liquid alkylation is much shorter than that of sulfuric acid. A considerable difference in isobutane solubility between ionic liquid and sulfuric acid was observed with ionic liquid having a greater tendency to dissolve isobutane at the start-up of alkylation. Deuterated product distributions indicate that trimethylpentane fractions stemmed primarily from the self-alkylation of isobutane, the direct alkylation reaction of C4 hydrocarbons, and the scission of C12+ intermediates. Most dimethylhexanes should come from the direct addition of sec-butyl carbonium ions to 2-butenes.
This contribution is an in-depth review of chemical and technological aspects of the alkylation of isobutane with light alkenes, focused on the mechanisms operative with both liquid and solid acid catalysts. The differences in importance of the individual mechanistic steps are discussed in terms of the physical–chemical properties of specific catalysts. The impact of important process parameters on alkylation performance is deduced from the mechanism. The established industrial processes based on the application of liquid acids and recent process developments involving solid acid catalysts are described briefly.
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