Market Situation

The NExOCTANE™ technology produces high quality gasoline blendstocks and provides a straightforward solution for conversion of the capital assets left idle after the phase out of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in the U.S. Environmental issues (including concerns over MTBE in water), regulatory changes such as the MTBE ban in California and elsewhere, and potential legal liabilities have effectively eliminated the use of MTBE as a gasoline additive in the U. S. Without MTBE, refiners are faced with the challenge of replacing the lost volume and octane value. The increased use of ethanol (usually bioethanol) addresses some of the needs but also creates a greater challenge in meeting tightening Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) specifications and moving lighter, lower value products via gasoline blending.

In 2007, the U.S. market accounted for about 50% of the world consumption of gasoline. Although growth in this market is expected to remain flat at 1% per year through 2030, domestic and import producers are continually faced with the need to upgrade lower value components for blending in the gasoline pool.

Commercial Applications

The NExOCTANE™ process selectively converts isobutylene to iso-octane (2, 2, 4 trimethylpentane), which results in the highest quality commercially available product. Iso-octane is a cost effective and higher value replacement of MTBE than alkylate or polymerate. Iso-octane (and iso-octene) offers excellent blending characteristics in gasoline, such as low vapor pressure (RVP). The olefinic product provides an especially good octane blending contribution. The high quality isooctane and isooctene produced from the NExOCTANE™ process allows producers and blenders to maximize product value.

Values and Benefits

NExOCTONE™ leads in the total number of licensed units and capacity for MTBE revamps.

  • Low RVP - Help clients maximize blendability of lighter, lower value streams.
  • Greater blending flexibility - Help owners maximize profits by increasing production of higher grade gasoline.
  • Sulfur, aromatic and benzene-free product - Helps meet tightening environmental specifications.
  • High selectivity and Conversion - More selectivity results in higher quality product, while high conversion maximizes yields.
  • High product value - Maximizes return on MTBE conversion investment.

Cost effective technology

Iso-octene is produced by dimerization of isobutylene feedstock through a low cost revamp of the existing MTBE facility. Iso-octene can be further processed in a hydrogenation unit to produce saturated iso-octane. The NExOCTANE™ process features:

  • Liquid phase, fixed bed dimerization reactors
  • Dimerization catalyst system based on acidic ion-exchange resin, specifically developed for isobutylene dimerization and exclusively available for the NExOCTANE™ process
  • The catalyst provides superior performance and substantially longer run lengths than standard resins helps to reduce operating costs
  • Product recovery in existing MTBE plant distillation equipment minimizes capital investment
  • Low cost hydrogenation technology featuring trickle bed design based on commercially available catalysts, using once-through hydrogen operation, which eliminates the expense of a hydrogen recycle compressor

Technology Information

Flexibility of Design

The NExOCTANE™ process is suitable for a wide variety of C4 feedstocks from FCC refineries, olefins plant raffinate and isobutane dehydrogenation. The technology is a simple, cost-effective solution that is particularly attractive for the conversion of existing MTBE units. Dimerization and hydrogenation are independent sections of the NExOCTANE™ process. This means the technology can be offered to produce iso-octene without hydrogenation, allowing the producer to utilize existing hydrogenation facilities or to blend iso-octene into the gasoline pool. The process can be designed to include flexibility for swing production of MTBE, ETBE, iso-octene, or iso-octane.


Technology licensing services are offered through a partnership of Neste Jacobs Engineering/Neste Oil and KBR. Neste Oil is the developer of NExOCTANE™ technology, which is an extension of their interest in fuels, etherification, and hydrogenation technologies. KBR is the exclusive NExOCTANE™ licensor and is a world-class provider of technologies, engineering and construction services for the process industry.

For more information on NExOTCTANE™, please visit our KBR Petrochemicals publications.