API RP 751
Safe Operation of Hydrofluoric Acid Alkylation Units
|Publication Date:||1 February 1999|
In January 1990, API issued Recommended Practice 750, Management of Process Hazards, which outlines the key elements of a comprehensive program for managing all potentially hazardous processes. In April 1991, API issued a background paper entitled "The Use of Hydrofluoric Acid in the Petroleum Refining Alkylation Process."  The paper outlines four systems that, if properly installed and maintained, will minimize the risks associated with this process. Although these documents will have a beneficial impact on hydrofluoric acid (HF) alkylation safety, a supplemental document that expands on concerns specific to HF alkylation can have an even larger effect. This recommended practice, developed by an API committee concerned with further improving the industry's good safety record, is intended to serve that purpose. It is an outline of many of the practices used effectively in the industry to minimize the process hazards of HF alkylation. Throughout this recommended practice, it is assumed that the reader is familiar with API Recommended Practice 750.
HF alkylation is a widely used refinery process important in producing a significant share of the nation's high-quality motor gasoline. The acid used in these units is a hazardous and corrosive liquid which, if accidentally released, can form a vapor cloud. Contact with HF liquid or vapor can result in serious, painful chemical burns and adverse health effects, sometimes with delayed onset.
However, with proper design of alkylation units and careful process management, the acid in these units does not present a significant risk to the community or the environment. This process has been operated for over 50 years, with only a small number of incidents affecting the surrounding communities. Moreover, improvements in process design and management are continually being made to further reduce the risks to workers and surrounding communities. The petroleum and chemical industries have conducted extensive research on HF alkylation safety; the results are being used to prevent incidents and to mitigate the effects of an incident if one occurs.
When the engineering systems and procedures described in this recommended practice are properly implemented, they will further reduce the potential for an HF release, mitigate the effects of a release in the unlikely event that one occurs, and provide for oversight of the entire process.
API publications may be used by anyone desiring to do so. Every effort has been made by the Institute to assure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in them; however, the Institute makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with this publication and hereby expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state, or municipal regulation with which this publication may conflict.
Suggested revisions are invited and should be submitted to the coordinator of the Refining Department, American Petroleum Institute, 1220 L Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005.