Alkylation now produces the most important gasoline component in the refinery. Alkylation units make high-octane gasoline blending components that contain little or no benzene and other undesirable constituents, making the process ideally suited for producing reformulated gasolines. But because the alkylation process is catalyzed by one of two strong acids either sulfuric or hydrofluoric-and because light, volatile hydrocarbon streams are involved, it is the focus of much attention by regulatory and environmental groups and refiners. Refiners have spent millions of dollars in recent years implementing sophisticated, effective safety sys...

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