2021 ERTC Conference Newspaper - Day 1

ERTC 2021

Renewing the fight against phosphorus

Sergio A. Robledo Haldor Topsoe

Setting the stage for a high-value market With the goal of furthering progress towards a sustainable future, governments in the US and EU have made their demands clear: a significant amount of renewable fuel must be added to the transport-fuel pool, and it must be added soon. In the US, the number is 36 billion gallons by 2022, as outlined in Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2). In the EU, the Renewable Energy Directive Recast (RED II) states that at least 14%of the EU’s transport fuels must derive from renewable sources by 2030. For refiners, the question is no longer “What’s my role in this?”. Instead, it is “How can I maximise the value of my role?”. With solutions emerging to help producers tackle the challenges inherent to renewa- ble production, it is important to consider four key elements when commissioning a renewable unit. They are:


O K Na K Mg K

Al K P K K K

Ca K Fe K Mo L

Figure 1 A catalyst particle, its surface coated with phosphorus. This image was produced using an energy-dispersive spectrometer attached to a scanning electron microscope has positioned us as an ideal supplier, and partner, for any renewable project. Market-leading catalysts, capable of producing drop-in fuels from feedstocks of any quality and severity without com- promising on business objectives, have always been our specialty. Our customers know they can count on us to help them reach or exceed increasingly difficult tar- gets, even as legislation tightens and mar- ket conditions fluctuate. Our mission doesn’t end with our pre- sent success; we are committed to help- ing our partners excel in a future defined, in no small part, by the availability of high- quality renewable fuel, and we know that more effort will be needed, on our part, to realise that vision. The combination of our vast industrial experience, along with sub-












Figure 2 Phosphorus profile of first-generation phosphorous traps

• Feed sourcing • Feed pretreatment • Hydroprocessing • Dewaxing

stantial R&D investment, has provided for the introduction of a new, groundbreaking catalyst: TK-3000 PhosTrap™. The challenge of inescapable impurities Various types of renewable feedstocks are available for transport fuel production, including: • Oilseed crops (e.g., soybean or canola) • Tall oil, corn oil, used cooking oils, and animal fats • Lignocellulosic biomass from agricul-

feedstocks also produce alternative con- taminants during the conversion process. Derived from living tissues like cell mem- branes, bone dust, muscle residue, and other organic compounds, the list of renew- able contaminants is extensive. But the most common is phosphorus, since phos- pholipids are the primary building blocks of cell membranes, and inorganic phosphorus is present in bone dust. Conversion of different feedstocks will yield different phosphorus concentrations, and that concentration can be reduced with pretreatment, but all renewable produc-

Making real progress in the renewable era For almost two decades, Topsoe has been at work developing and refining renewable solutions, the first of which was a licensed HydroFlex unit that entered operation in 2010, using a proprietary catalyst. HydroFlex has since served as the pro- cessing foundation for more than 60 renewable fuel plants.The expertisegained from such extensive industry involvement

tural residues, algae, trees, and grass As alternatives to fossil fuels, these From refining to chemicals, a switch of the yield in four stages


ical operations, with the primary objec- tive of maximising chemicals production. It consists of the ultimate degree of inte- gration between a refinery and a petro- chemical plant to form a unique complex dedicated to pushing forward the conver- sion into valuable petrochemical interme- diates (olefins and aromatics). CTC integration is a necessity to meet a driving demand towards high-value chemi- cals (HVCs), at the expense of transporta- tion fuels and heavier fuel oils. A Staged Transformation of the Refining Industry A brief overview of the refining indus- try sheds light on the increasing need for refining and petrochemical integration. As shown in Figure 1 , it is possible to chart

Over the last decade, the demand for main petrochemicals intermediates (eth- ylene, propylene, paraxylene) increased by an annual growth rate of around 4%. That growth rate is very similar to the one observed for the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during the same period. On the other hand, since 2010, fuel demand growth followed global population change with an annual growth of 1% per year. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), petrochemicals are rap- idly becoming the largest driver of global oil consumption; they are set to account for more than a third of the growth in oil demand by 2030, and nearly half by 2050, ahead of trucks, aviation and shipping. The crude-to-chemicals (CTC) concept involves merging refining and petrochem-

Stage 4: Crude-to-chemicals

Stage 3: Scale and portfolio complexity


Stage 2: Forward integration


Towards PX Mega-scale deep conversion New technology deployment

Stage 1: Simple recovery


+ steam cracker & commodity derivatives


Recovery of aromatics & FCC olens

Chemical yield

Figure 1 Chemical yield increase for each stage of the refining and petrochemical integration Adapted from IHS (WPC 2019)


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