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Keywords:

  • desulfurization of liquid fuels;
  • π-complexation sorbent;
  • desulfurization by adsorption;
  • desulfurization of diesel;
  • 4-methyl-dibenzothiophene adsorption;
  • 4, 6-dimethyl-dibenzothiophene adsorption

Abstract

Desulfurization of a commercial diesel fuel by different adsorbents was studied in a fixed-bed adsorber operated at ambient temperature and pressure. In general, the adsorbents tested for total sulfur adsorption capacity at breakthrough followed the order: AC/Cu(I)-Y > Cu(I)-Y > Selexsorb® CDX (alumina) > CuCl/γ-Al2O3 > activated carbon > Cu(I)-ZSM-5. The best adsorbent, AC/Cu(I)-Y (layered bed of 15 wt % activated carbon followed by Cu(I)Y), is capable of producing 30 cm3 of diesel fuel per gram of adsorbent with a weighted average content of 0.15 ppmw-S, and about 20 cm3 of diesel fuel per gram of adsorbent with a weighted average content of 0.06 ppmw-S. These low-sulfur fuels are suitable for fuel cell applications. The added layer of carbon not only delayed the sulfur breakthrough significantly but also sharpened the sulfur wavefronts. GC-FPD results showed that the π-complexation sorbents selectively adsorbed highly substituted thiophenes, benzothiophenes, and dibenzothiophenes from diesel, which is not possible with conventional hydrodesulfurization (HDS) reactors. The high sulfur selectivity and high sulfur capacity of Cu(I)Y were because of π-complexation. © 2004 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 50: 791–801, 2004