A method for reactivating a solid alkylation catalyst is provided which can be performed within a reactor that contains the alkylation catalyst or outside the reactor. Effective catalyst reactivation is achieved whether the catalyst is completely deactivated or partially deactivated. A fluid reactivating agent is employed to dissolve catalyst fouling agents and also to react with such agents and carry away the reaction products. The deactivated catalyst is contacted with the fluid reactivating agent under pressure and temperature conditions such that the fluid reactivating agent is dense enough to effectively dissolve the fouling agents and any reaction products of the fouling agents and the reactivating agent. Useful pressures and temperatures for reactivation include near-critical, critical, and supercritical pressures and temperatures for the reactivating agent. The fluid reactivating agent can include, for example, a branched paraffin containing at least one tertiary carbon atom, or a compound that can be isomerized to a molecule containing at least one tertiary carbon atom.
CONTRACTUAL ORIGIN OF THE INVENTION
This invention was made with United States Government support under Contract No. DE-AC07-94ID13223, now Contract No. DE-AC07-99ID13727 awarded by the United States Department of Energy. The United States Government has certain rights in the invention.