Project Synopsis

Perform a technical evaluation of various processing options to purify an existing cyclopentane product into a much higher purity cyclopentane product.

Project Summary


Process Engineering Associates, LLC (PROCESS) was contacted by the client, a privately-owned firm that produces specialty petrochemicals and conducts toll processing for major refining companies, to investigate technical alternatives for generating cyclopentane that would have a minimum purity of 95%. Presently, the client’s main products are cyclopentane, normal pentane and isopentane, normal hexane and isohexane, and petroleum ether. The cyclopentane currently sold has a minimum purity of 70%.

The 70% cyclopentane that the client desired to purify included normal pentane and hexane, as well as several hexane isomers.  The alternatives investigated for the purification of this mixture included molecular sieves, membranes (permeation [liq/liq] and pervaporation [liq/vap]), and distillation. It was determined by PROCESS that although all of these methods were, to some extent, technically capable of generating purified cyclopentane, only distillation provided a method that would be commercially feasible for this facility, i.e., that could be accomplished with equipment that was readily available.

PROCESS utilized commercial process simulation software to conduct distillation simulations to determine the best method of generating the 95% cyclopentane from either of two existing streams in the client’s plant. Once the best strategy was identified, further simulation was conducted to determine the number of distillation columns required, along with the number of equilibrium stages, major operating costs, and the amount of purified cyclopentane that could be produced.

A report was issued which summarized the results of the study and the simulations. Should the client decide to move forward with the cyclopentane purification project, this report will serve as a technical basis for a detailed distillation system design.

Industry Type

  • Specialty Hydrocarbons Production

Utilized Skills

  • Technical process alternatives evaluation
  • Distillation design

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