Styrenics / Phenolics / Carbonates Production

Acetone Hydrogenation to Isopropyl Alcohol

The Versalis/Lummus Technology Isopropanol process produces isopropanol (IPA) by a two step process: hydrogenation of acetone to IPA, followed by distillation of the raw IPA to produce a high purity product. The first step is the hydrogenation of acetone with hydrogen to yield raw IPA. Excess hydrogen is recovered and recycled to the acetone hydrogenation reactor. The hydrogenation reaction operating conditions and hydrogen partial pressure are optimized to give almost complete conversion of acetone with extremely high selectivity to IPA. The raw IPA is then purified in a series of two distillation columns to produce a finished high purity (99.9 wt% dry basis) IPA product and an azeotropic IPA byproduct containing the water entering the process from the feeds. A small amount of heavy ends by-product containing mostly butanol and methyl isobutyl carbinol (MIBC) is also produced in the unit.


  • Use of inexpensive acetone feedstock rather than propylene
  • Able to process byproduct acetone from phenol production (no purification required)
  • High IPA product purity
  • High acetone conversion and selectivity to IPA throughout the run length
  • Simple fixed bed reactor
  • All carbon steel construction
  • Low investment and plant maintenance costs
  • Stable catalyst with long continuous run length
  • Environmentally friendly catalyst; easy catalyst handling and spent catalyst disposal

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