Linde and Saudi-Arabian SABIC jointly developed, commercialized and own a technology for the production of linear alpha olefins (LAO) by selective catalytic oligomerization of polymer grade ethylene. The technology is named Alpha-SABLIN®.
The first industrial scale plant for the production of alpha olefins with the Alpha-SABLIN® process was fully commercialised in 2009. Linear alpha olefins (LAO), which are characterized by an olefinic double bond in the alpha position of a linear hydrocarbon chain, represent a family of versatile components used in the modern chemical industry.
The main fields of application include:
The Alpha-SABLIN® Reactor
The oligomerization of ethylene into LAO is carried out in a bubble column reactor with the solvent and the dissolved catalyst components fed to the liquid phase. Ethylene is introduced via a gas distribution system to the bottom section, whereas the liquid heavy LAO, together with the solvent and the catalyst, are withdrawn from the bottoms.
The ethylene feed to the reactor serves 3 purposes:
The function of ethylene as a coolant in the LAO reactor is a unique feature of the Alpha-SABLIN® technology. With that, cold heat exchanger surfaces that would be subject to heavy fouling can be avoided.
The Alpha-SABLIN® Product Separation
The heavy LAO fraction including the dissolved catalyst is withdrawn from the LAO reactors and fed to the catalyst removal section, in which the catalyst is deactivated and separated from the hydrocarbon phase. Downstream of the catalyst removal section the light and heavy LAO fractions are fed to the C2/C4 separation column. The bottom stream of the C2/C4 separation column is fed to the separation train, in which it is separated into the desired product fractions. The separation train applies standard distillation technology. Due to the high selectivity of the catalyst there is no need to install sophisticated superfractionation steps for removal of impurities.
The Alpha-SABLIN® Process Characteristics
The Alpha-SABLIN® technology is characterized by:
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