• acylation desulfurization;
  • reactive adsorption;
  • thiophenic compounds;
  • complexation;
  • real oil

Excellent desulfurization is achieved via reactive adsorption using Friedel-Crafts acylation materials, that is, acylating reagents and Lewis acids, such as acetyl chloride (AC) and AlCl3, being named as acylation desulfurization (ACDS). For model oil, thiophenic compounds, namely, dibenzothiophene, benzothiophene, and thiophene, are removed completely by AC–AlCl3 within 30 min at room temperature. In this process, thiophenic compounds are acylated by AC under the catalysis of AlCl3, and the acylated derivatives are stronger base than original ones due to incorporation of O-containing carbonyl group (C[DOUBLE BOND]O) and, thus, adsorbed more easily by AlCl3 via Lewis acid–base complexation. Further, ACDS mechanism is identified by acylated product characterization and quantum chemistry calculation. Satisfactorily, ACDS is still effective for toluene-rich and real oils, and real oil quality is improved with desulfurization proceeding. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 59: 2966–2976, 2013