RIL Jamnagar Refinery has 2 of the world’s largest Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC) units. The light naphtha produced from these units is the major contributor of Benzene in the gasoline pool. Due to health and environmental concerns, there has been an increasing pressure on refiners around the world to reduce the amount of Benzene and other hazardous air pollutants in the gasoline pool. In 2011, RIL started to evaluate available technologies to remove Benzene from FCC Light naphtha. Also available extractive distillation technology that used solvent to extracts Benzene from FCC light naphtha was not proven commercially.
In 2011, RIL and Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) Dehradun signed an agreement to co-develop an extractive distillation process using a robust solvent that will not degrade appreciably in the presence of difficult species and contaminants. It was understood that robust and selective solvent will improve unit operation and performance resulting in higher reliability and availability of the unit.
RIL-IIP Team did several experiments in the laboratory and pilot plants, and established that selected solvent is robust and meets the required performance criteria. Based on pilot plant data, process scale-up and process design optimization was done. RIL-IIP filed joint patent for the process to create strong Intellectual Property (IP) and “freedom to operate” assurance.