Kerosene is a combustible paraffin oil collected from petroleum fuel. Since it is a flammable hydrocarbon liquid, it is generally used as fuel in aviation and households too. Normally, it is pale yellow or colourless liquid and possesses a non-pleasant odour. It is a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons whose lighter portions are refined mainly into Jet fuel. This sweetening process which has been patented by UOP is called “The Merox Process”. The process involves certain mandatory steps which purify the crude oil by washing with water and refining it in an Attapulgite clay bed to remove all the contaminants and transforming it into Aviation Turbine fuel more commonly known as Jet fuel.

Jet fuel is a form of Aviation Turbine fuel intended to be used in aircraft’s gas-turbine engines. It can vary between clear to straw-coloured in appearance. The most commonly used fuels for commercial aviation are Jet A and Jet A-1. The only other jet fuel commonly used in civilian turbine-engine powered aviation is Jet B, which is used for its enhanced cold-weather performance.

Sweetening of Kerosene and Jet fuel:

The sweetening of Kerosene’s objective is to reform the astringent values present in the mercaptan sulphur compounds to neutral disulfides in furtherance of the standard tests for mercaptan presence. The merox process is a refining process that puts the crude distillate through a sweetening treatment which involves removal of Hydrogen Sulfides, Carbon Dioxide and mercaptans from kerosene.

At the sweetening plant, sour distillates are pulled through a sweetening tower which contains amine solution. The amine draws and ingests the sulfur molecules, freeing the distillate from this lethal, injurious compound, leaving it sweetened. One of the other ways of sweetening is the Sulphuric acid treatment. This removes sulphur, aromatics, olefins etc. But the major defects in this way is a noticeable loss of material resulting from the production of acid sludge and the difficulty in its removal and disposal.

An effective and predominantly used process is “The Clay bed treatment”. This treatment is broadly practiced for the elimination of olefins and di-olefins from fractured gas and liquid flows. This promotes colour, odour and oxidation balance of the greasy oil based stocks and waxes. Activated Attapulgite clay granules are used in this process.

The doctor sweetening process is an industrial chemical process for converting mercaptans in sour gasoline into disulfides. In this process, sodium plumbite which is a solution of lead oxide in caustic soda is used as a catalyst. Due to its inexpensive nature, it was widely used at one point of time. Now, it has been largely replaced by the merox process which involves a water bath and processing the distillate through a Attapulgite clay bed.

Final thoughts: Sweetening process is necessary for refining sour distillates to internationally accepted standards for aviation turbine fuel. Copia India is one of the more prominent producers of processed Attapulgite Clay Granules like CP Jet 100 30/60 and CP Jet 100 B 16/30 used in the Merox Process for the treatment of sour distillates.

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