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Revamp of LAB Plant

Indian Petrochemical Corporation is a leading manufacturer of petrochemicals.

Process Overview
LAB (Linear Alkyl Benzene) is the reaction product of n-paraffin and benzene. The LAB plant consists of PACOL unit (i.e. a reactor) and recovery unit (consisting of paraffin column, re-run column and recovery column).

The output from the reactor consists of un-reacted paraffin, LAB and HAB (Heavy Alkyl Benzene) forms the feed to the paraffin column. The paraffin column separates the un-reacted paraffin from the product and by-product i.e. LAB and HAB respectively. The re-run column in the loop then separates LAB and HAB. Further, in the recovery column LAB, which has slipped along with bottoms of re-run column is separated out. The LAB extracted from the re-run and recovery column need to have high purity and desired Acid Color Index (ACI).

Customer Requirements

  • Maximize recovery of LAB thereby limiting the slippage to < 5%
  • Improve Acid Color Index to a range of 20 to 25

Acid Color Index is the measure of purity of LAB. LAB is mixed with 98% sulphuric acid (H2SO4) and the color index of the LAB sulfonate is measured. Good quality sulfonate (water like color) must have a color index of 20-25.

Problem analysis
Munters studied existing system; the slippage of LAB in the recovery column was found to be more than 15% and the Acid Color Index was 30-35, sometimes even reaching 60.

It was concluded that:

  • The existing Pall Rings had performance limitation
  • The existing distributor and redistributors were found to be inadequate to achieve proper distribution quality

Solution provided
The LAB plant was hydraulically rated using Medal-Pak® and high-performance distributors. The LAB slippage was found to be within 5 - 7%.

Recommendations to the customer

  • Replacement of existing Pall Ring with high-performance Medal-Pak® tower packings
  • Replacement to high-performance distributors and re-distributors to improve the quality of distribution

The tower internals and tower packings were manufactured, supplied and installed accordingly.

Results achieved
Plant capacity was increased by 20%. LAB slippage was reduced to less than 5% and the ACI also improved to the desired level.

The Indian Petrochemical Corporation expressed their satisfaction with the result as follows:

“After revamp, the systems are found working satisfactory and giving required performance in the product quality. LAB loss in Heavy Alkylates is now
< 5% in the recovery column and in the paraffin column the overhead vapor temperature has gone down. Munters' services are excellent.” .


  • Customer: Petrochemical industry
  • Location: Western India
  • Tower Name: Paraffin recovery unit
  • Tower Diameter: 1200 mm to 4500 mm
  • Mass Transfer Equipment: Medal-Pak® tower packings and tower internals

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