Pub. 2 2020-2021 Issue 3


Chevron Celebrates Completion of World’s First ISOALKY™ Process Unit at its Salt Lake Refinery

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UPDATE Magazine
Pub. 2 2020-2021 Issue 3

Chevron’s Salt Lake Refinery held a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 7, 2021, to celebrate the start-up of its new ISOALKY™ process unit. Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson and other Utah leaders joined the event and helped recognize the refinery for its achievement: the new plant is the world’s first commercial-scale ionic liquids alkylation unit and represents one of the major innovations in liquid alkylation technology in almost 80 years.

How was ISOALKY™ Technology developed?

The science behind ISOALKY™ Technology originated more than twenty years ago at Chevron’s research facilities in California. Chevron first began exploring the viability of ionic liquids in 1999, and in 2004, company scientists identified a catalyst for alkylation. In 2009, Chevron selected its Salt Lake Refinery to pilot a 10 barrel-per-day (BPD) plant and prove out the technology. The pilot plant was in operation for five years, gathering the data needed to design a full-scale processing unit. After 1.9 million workhours and three years of construction, the full-scale ISOALKY™ plant was built by retrofitting the refinery’s hydrofluoric acid (HF) alkylation unit. The full-scale ISOALKY™ Plant was commissioned in January 2021 with project start-up and testing taking place during Q1.

What are the benefits of ISOALKY™ Technology?

ISOALKY™ Technology offers process safety and performance advantages over conventional alkylation technologies. Ionic liquids (i.e. non-aqueous liquid salts) have properties that enable the production of alkylate without the volatility of conventional acids, allowing for simpler handling procedures and the use of standard personal protective equipment.

The retrofit of Chevron’s alkylation unit to install ISOALKY™ Technology represents a major investment for the refinery and has allowed it to take hydrofluoric acid out of plant operations, proving this first-of-its kind technology to the refining industry globally.

In addition to its process safety advantages, ISOALKY™ Technology has wider and improved feed flexibility relative to conventional alkylation technologies. Ionic liquids are regenerated on-site, eliminating the need for the road transportation associated with offsite regeneration and polymer byproduct handling.

ISOALKY™ Technology has been licensed to UOP Honeywell to supply the industry, meaning more facilities like this can be expected around the world in the future.


An example of what’s possible in Utah

For Chevron’s Salt Lake Refinery, this project is a demonstration of its continued dedication to the Beehive State.

“This is one more example of our commitment to safe and reliable operations, protecting the environment and investing in our local community,” said Bryon Stock, Refinery Manager. “Chevron operates at the privilege of the community, and without its support this project would not have been possible.”

“Utah is a great place to innovate and that’s what’s exciting about this project,” said Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson during remarks at the event. “This is a state where big things and big dreams can be possible and this cutting-edge technology for the refining industry, which has been built right here in our state, is evidence of that.”