India: Benzene Extraction Advanced Removal of Air Pollutants

Editor: Alexander Stark

In 2011, the Indian company Reliance Industries started to evaluate available technologies to remove Benzene from FCC Light naphtha. Recently, the company has commissioned a unit applying a patented Benzene removal technology based on their studies.

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Reliance Industries’ Benzene Recovery Unit in India.
Reliance Industries’ Benzene Recovery Unit in India.
(Picture: Reliance Industries)

Jamangar/India – Reliance Industries Jamnagar Refinery operates to of the world’s largest Fluid Catalytic Cracker (FCC) units. The light naphtha produced in these units is the major contributor of Benzene in the gasoline supply. 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, the Indian conglomerate started to evaluate available technologies to remove Benzene from FCC Light naphtha. All available and the claimed proven technologies at that time had the disadvantages of higher capital and operating expenditures, loss of value due to significantly lower Benzene recovery and loss of octane barrel due to loss of high-octane olefinic compounds.

According to the company, other technologies to handle the challenging extraction of Benzene were 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,

Following several experiments in the laboratory and pilot plants, the research group selected a solvent that is robust and meets the required performance criteria. Based on pilot plant data, process scale-up and process design optimization was realised.

TIP was handed-over to Technip, which was selected as Detailed Engineering Contractor (DEC) for this new process named Benzene Recovery Unit (BRU).

On May 23, 2016 the recently commissioned unit started producing the on-specification raffinate with less than 0.2 vol.-% Benzene.

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