cumene alkylation

Cumene alkylation (Cumene)  

ExxonMobil’s zeolite catalysts are the heart of the Badger Cumene process. Originally developed by Mobil Oil, the MCM-22 family of zeolite catalysts revolutionized the production of cumene. With their high activity and selectivity to cumene, ExxonMobil catalysts enable a simple, liquid phase process that replaced the older aluminum chloride and solid phosphoric acid technologies – all while setting the standard for cumene product purity.

With TechnipFMC Badger Process Technology, and building upon our 20+ year relationship, the cumene technology continues to be improved. The result is a highly energy efficient, low environmental impact process that is easy to maintain and to operate and offers a low capital and operating cost for the production of cumene in the phenolics value chain.

Key benefits

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    • Ultra-high yields minimize raw material consumption
    • Low B/P and B/PIPB ratios minimize recycle and energy consumption

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    • High selectivity to cumene reduces distillation column sizes
    • High activity catalyst enables a smaller reactor volume and catalyst quantity
    • Low temperature, pressure and noncorrosive operating conditions

  • High reliability

    • High purity cumene product
    • Minimal production downtime
    • Stable yields throughout the catalyst life
    • Long catalyst life with fewer replacements


An alkylation reactor uses ExxonMobil catalyst to convert benzene and propylene to cumene in the liquid phase. A small fraction of the cumene is further alkylated to polyisopropylbenzenes (PIPB), which is recovered in distillation and converted back to cumene in the transalkylation reactor.


A single bed, liquid phase transalkylation reactor converts the small amount of PIPB with benzene to recover additional cumene production.


A simple distillation train recovers unreacted benzene, produces cumene product, and recycles PIPB to transalkylation.

Cumene technology leadership  

ExxonMobil continues to be one of the leading cumene catalyst suppliers in the world. As of early 2018, ExxonMobil catalysts were deployed to 24 customers around the world in the Badger Cumene process. Together these customers using ExxonMobil catalysts account for more than 10 million metric tons of cumene per year – over half of the world’s total installed capacity and represent some of largest grassroot units and revamps in the world. ExxonMobil catalysts have successfully produced high-quality cumene from every commercial grade of propylene and its cumene product has been a feedstock to every major Phenol process technology.

Support from initial consultation throughout the life of the operation:  

  • Initial discussions to confirm client objectives and tailor the solution
  • Feedstock testing and support services
  • Detailed yield estimate
  • Feasibility study
  • Commercial proposal
  • Process design package
  • Catalyst loading and startup support
  • Technology training
  • Technology improvements
  • Performance monitoring and technical assistance throughout the life of the catalyst
  • Worldwide catalyst manufacturing to enable security of supply

Badger cumene process  

Featured resources

View highlighted news, events, technical papers and case studies below. To see our full collection of resources, browse our Library.
  • ExxonMobil Chemical Library icon

    Summary of technologies offered

    Learn about the cutting-edge, proprietary catalysts and advantaged process technologies that ExxonMobil provides for refining, gas and chemical needs.

    Read more
  • ExxonMobil Chemical play button icon

    Introduction to ExxonMobil Catalysts and Technology Licensing

    See an overview of ExxonMobil's refining, chemical manufacturing and gas processing technologies along with their assortment of specialty catalysts. These technologies and catalysts are used at ExxonMobil's own facilities and are offered for license to customers.

    Watch the video
  • ExxonMobil Chemical play button icon

    Video Case Study - HuiZhou ChungShun Chemical uses Zeolite catalyst for cumene production in China

    Through ExxonMobil’s cumene catalyst and technical support, HuiZhou Chungshun leveraged the performance of the catalyst to expand its production rates while maintaining excellent product quality in order to maximize profitability.

    Watch the video
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