Ballestra has developed, over decades of experience, safe, cost effective, flexible know-how for the design and supply of alkoxylation plants for the production non-ionic surfactants, using all main raw materials as:

  • Fatty alcohol
  • Nonylphenols
  • Fatty amines
  • Fatty acids
  • Alkyl-amides
  • Castor oil
  • Glycerides

Ballestra know-how covers the design and operation of the alkoxylation plant from the ethylene and propylene oxide handling up to the final products flaking and finishing.

Ballestra also offers extensive know-how on products formulation, application and marketing.

Ballestra technology has been applied in several plants installed worldwide, some in operation for more than 20 years.

Alkoxylation capacity of the plants ranges from pilot plant size up to more than 200,000 Tons per year.

Layout of the plant can be optimized to meet specific client requirements.


Ballestra is also able to offer customized and optimized designs for preassembled and skid-mounted plants, aimed to cost effective and time saving solutions.

The alkoxylated products can contain in the molecule a number of moles of ethylene oxide and/or propylene oxide ranging from one to hundreds. These are used for a wide range of application such as:

  • Detergent and cosmetic industry
  • Fiber treatment
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Leather industry
  • Oil drilling and recovery
  • Industrial lubrication
  • Textile auxiliaries
  • Polymerization aids

The typical alkoxylation plant configuration is composed of the following sections:

  • Ethylene (and propylene) oxide storage area
  • Ethoxylation (propoxylation) reaction
  • Product finishing/flaking
  • Tank farm (raw materials final & intermediate products)
  • Exhaust gas treatment in compliance with the most stringent environmental regulations
  • Fire-fighting system
  • Utilities (steam generation, cooling water system, compressed air, nitrogen)
  • Computer control system and emergency shut-down system

Enhanced Loop Reactor Technology

The Enhanced Loop Reactor is the most advanced reaction system for alkoxylation processes.

Thanks to the newly conceived double-acting gas-liquid mass transfer, the new Enhanced Loop Reactor features several outstanding advantages and better cost effectiveness with respect to the other technologies available on the market.

The reactor is equipped with one or two external circulation loops (depending on production requirements), provided with heat exchangers for reaction heat removal and temperature control.

The circulation through the two loops can be started separately. One of these loops is designed to start-up batches with a small amount of chain starter, making it possible to attain a very high growth ratio (up to 1:80) in a single operation cycle.

EO/PO addition is performed by spraying the oxides in the gas phase in the upper portion of the reactor in order to avoid any possibility of backflow of the catalyzed liquid reaction mixture to the storage tanks of the ethylene and propylene oxides.

enhanced loop reactor

Enhanced Loop Reactor distinctive features

  • Circulation system by means of pumps with high flow rates and efficient agitation through a gas-liquid mixer that allows a high homogeneity of reaction mass and accurate temperature control
  • Low operating pressure due to the extremely high efficiency of the double acting mass transfer
  • Very high reaction rates (>1,000 Kg EO/h/m3)
  • Largely sized cooling circuit that permits to have at any time a remarkable allowance over the generated heat of reaction
  • Highest production flexibility with the ability to manufacture high growth ratio products (up to 1:80) in a single step
  • Very fast post-reaction phase with reduction of EO amount in the final product to less than 1 ppm, without the need for vacuum stripping
  • Reaction of vertical type, volume of the reaction circuits reduced at minimum, elimination of dead zones that makes fast and easy the drainage and cleaning limiting the need for washing only for production switch between different product families
  • Manufacture of high-quality products with a very low content of impurities and byproducts

High Efficiency Stirred Reactor Technology

conventional sirred reactor

Enhanced Loop Reactor technology is the first choice for making the vast majority of ethylene and propylene oxide derivatives, having tangible advantages in terms of capital and operating costs, safety and product quality. However, conventional stirred reactor technology is still the right solution for applications where it is necessary to carry out alkoxylation reaction on viscous liquids or on slurries with high solid content.

The Ballestra stirred reactor technology allows the production of the widest range of alkoxylated products thanks to the special design of its reactor.

It has been applied in several plants installed worldwide, with up to 12 reactors operating in parallel and making different products.

Considerable effort has been paid to improve the safe operation of stirred ethoxylation reactors by adopting the most appropriate process and design solutions.