Toluene Alkylation with methanol

Toluene selective alkylation with methanol (EMTAM℠)  

The EMTAM℠ process is a breakthrough technology that maximizes production of valuable paraxylene product while lowering feed and energy costs. The highly paraxylene selective process is built off of commercially proven technologies. Unlike other toluene conversion processes, there is no benzene co-product and no hydrogen co-feed. It is the only process that can tune the methyl to ring ratio based on market conditions and allows unlimited benzene co-feeding to produce paraxylene.

Key benefits

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    • Lower feed and energy costs
    • Product slate flexibility – ability to upgrade benzene to PX when market conditions are favorable
    • Ability to maximize PX product or minimize crude feedstock

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    • Toluene mostly converted to PX, no benzene coproduct
    • High toluene conversion
    • High methanol incorporation
    • Stable and consistent product yields

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    • High selectivity to PX/smaller recovery unit
    • Low sensitivity to poisons (continuous regeneration)
    • Ability to use ExxonMobil’s LPI process to further lower energy costs

The EMTAM process  

The EMTAM process is a fluidized bed catalytic process that uses low-cost and readily available methanol to alkylate toluene and/or benzene to yield a highly paraxylene enriched product with minimized production of other co-products. The image below is the 3D model of a world-scale unit design.

Factory layout

Tested and proven technology:  

Fluidized bed process derived from FCC technology

  • Based on 75+ years of ExxonMobil experience with FCC process
  • Process conditions very similar to FCC (pressure, temperature, fluid solids circulation)
  • Peripherals identical to FCC (stripper, cyclones, cat cooler, slide valves, transfer lines)

Demonstrated performance

  • 10+ years pilot plant operation
  • ~1 full year of 8 Bbl/day Process
  • Demonstration Unit operation
  • Commercially produced catalyst

Reliable design

  • Reviewed and approved by 4 world-class engineering companies
  • World-scale unit design complete
  • Multiple world-class fabricators qualified by ExxonMobil to construct vessel and internals

Highly selective to PX, lower feed and energy costs, stable and consistent yields  

The EMTAM process, which is highly selective to PX, uses a proprietary selectivated zeolite catalyst which is continuously regenerated to ensure stable and consistent product yields throughout the cycle. The fluidized bed process also features high toluene conversion per pass, optimized process conditions (toluene to methanol ratio, water co-feed, superficial velocity…) and a proprietary staged methanol injection system aimed at maximizing methanol utilization for the methylation reaction and minimizing by-products formation. When the toluene methylation unit is close to an ethylene facility, the off-gas can be upgraded to higher-valued olefins products. The EMTAM process lowers feed and energy costs which represent ~75% of the operating cost in a state-of-the-art naphtha to PX complex.

Maximizing aromatic rings to paraxylene:  

Life cycle support  

  • Initial discussions to confirm client objectives and tailor the solution
  • Detailed yield estimate
  • Feasibility study
  • Commercial proposal
  • Process design package
  • Technology transfer, training, catalyst loading and startup support
  • Technology improvement
  • Performance monitoring and technical assistance throughout the life of the catalyst

Featured resources

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  • 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
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