MTBE Manufacture Technology Description

Online MTBE Data: Manufacture, Uses and Applications

Intratec Chemical Process Library is the first free online encyclopedia of chemical process technologies. Our Library covers not only processes description themselves, but also the economics surrounding chemicals production, providing real-world knowledge on the production of several chemical commodities. Click here to check all chemicals covered.

In this page you will find free data about Methyl-tert Butyl Ether (MTBE), including:

  • What is MTBE
  • How to make MTBE
  • MTBE uses and applications

This page presents brief synopsis of MTBE production technology, describing, in a concise way, relevant technical and economic aspects. Each manufacturing process description will consist of:

  • Major process steps
  • Simplified, schematic flow diagram & key equipment
  • Important safety or environmental considerations
  • Economic perspective, comprising capital expenditures and/or operating expenses

Methyl-tert Butyl Ether (MTBE) Manufacture from C4 Raffinate-1

Methyl tertiary-butyl ether is an organic compound used mainly as a fuel additive to enhance octane rating. It has low cost, high octane value, and is easy to incorporate into fuel blends.

In the 1980s, the use of MTBE as a replacement to tetraethyl lead in gasoline was stimulated by governments looking to meet air-quality goals. Concerns over the safety of using MTBE arose in light of contaminations of surface and groundwater. In this context, gasoline manufacturers, particularly in the U.S., started replacing MTBE in fuel with safer alternatives, mainly ethanol and ETBE (ethyl tertiary-butyl ether), to comply with new environmental legislation. Currently, MTBE is still used as a gasoline additive outside the U.S., mainly in Middle East countries and in the Asia-Pacific region.

MTBE is produced via an etherification reaction between methanol and isobutylene in a liquid state. The major sources of isobutylene are the following: C4 raffinate-1 from naphtha steam-cracking units, the C4 stream from petroleum-refinery catalytic crackers, on-purpose isomerization and dehydrogenation of butane to isobutylene, and the dehydration of tert-butyl alcohol.

Technology Description

The figure below depicts a process in which MTBE is manufactured from methanol and raffinate-1, which consists mostly of isobutylene, butylenes and butanes.

MTBE Manufacture Technology - Process Flow Diagram

Etherification reaction

The etherification reaction is conducted in the presence of an acidic ion-exchange resin in a ...

Methanol recovery

Inert C4 olefins and paraffins, along with the excess methanol ...

Economic Performance

In a hypothetical scenario in which this MTBE production plant would be built near a naphtha steam-cracking unit in the ...

To access a report with more content about this process click here.