CONOCO, NESTE OY JOIN CATALYTIC PROCESS EFFORT

CONOCO, NESTE OY JOIN CATALYTIC PROCESS EFFORT

Conoco Inc., the energy subsidiary of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., and Neste Oy, the Finnish oil company, have joined with Catalytica, a Mountain View, Calif., company to pursue commercial development of Catalytica's novel, catalytic gasoline alkylation process.

The new process, based on a proprietary solid catalyst, could replace the need for liquid acid catalyst alkylation units that use hydrofluoric or sulfuric acids to produce high-octane gasoline, the companies said.Existing liquid acid alkylation units could be converted to the new solid catalyst-based process.

If successful, the Conoco-Neste-Catalytica process would enable refiners to more economically produce reformulated gasolines that meet U.S. Clean Air Act auto emission standards without the use of liquid acids.

The three partners will have a pilot plant operational at Neste's Porvoo research center in Finland this fall.

"We believe this process is a major step forward toward meeting the growing demand for cleaner, more environmentally compatible motor fuels, while simultaneously allowing reductions in on-site liquid acid inventories," said Paul Lashbrooke, Conoco vice president for refining, research and engineering.

Risto Rinne, executive vice president for Neste oil, said, "We see a growing need for this process in the European refining market, and we will play an important role in commercializing this technology in that sector."

James Cusumano, chairman of Catalytica, said, "This project is one example of how advanced catalytic technology can help meet growing market demands within increasingly stringent environmental constraints."

Financial terms of the joint venture were not disclosed.