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Ethers Production

Since the advent of the automobile, worldwide refiners have striven competitively to form the same desired product from crude oil: high octane gasoline. However, the phase-out of tetraethyl lead (TEL) ordered by the U.S. government in the 1970s compelled refiners to seek alternative methods of increasing the octane level of gasoline. The commercial availability and environmental benefits of oxygenates, including methanol, ethanol, MTBE, and TAME, allowed for a gradual replacement of TEL with oxygenates. However, since the recent U.S. incident involving faulty MTBE tanks, the government initiated a phase-out of MTBE, placing a new obstacle in the path to gasoline production. This new challenge to refiners demands renewed research and questions the viability of etherification as a method of improving octane in gasoline.

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