Catalysis 2024 Issue

Chemicals (TC2C) technology. The negative side of these options is the high costs and construction time. Inovacat’s Gasolfin technology fits well into all Phase Two options. The Gasolfin catalyst system converts naphtha boil - ing range molecules into light olefins (ethylene, propylene, and butylene) with total olefin yields up to 88 wt%. Olefin yields are up to 27 wt% ethylene, 46 wt% propylene, and 30 wt% butylene, depending upon feedstock (see Figures 1 and 2 ). The Gasolfin catalyst cracks pentane into 32 wt% pro - pylene. This technology has been under development since 2017 in conjunction with the Chemical Process and Energy Resources Institute (CPERI) laboratory in Thessaloniki, Greece. An alternative outlet for naphtha is expected to be a challenge for profitable refinery operations. Gasolfin is a naphtha conversion technology, producing light olefin with significantly lower CO₂ emissions than the three leading propylene-producing technologies: FCC, steam cracking, and propane dehydrogenation. A paper for benchmarking GHG emissions for existing technologies is entitled Energy and GHG Reductions in the Chemical Industry via Catalytic Processes .² , ³ Gasolfin produces 0.45 tons of CO₂ for every ton of total olefin pro - duced, which is annotated as ‘tCO₂/tHVC’, where tHVC abbreviates ‘ton Highly Valued Chemical’. The HVC defi - nition for Gasolfin is the sum of ethylene, propylene, and butylene. HVC for PDH and FCC is propylene and ethylene for steam cracking. This excellent metric enables a side-by- side comparison of an FCC and a steam cracker. GHG reductions place the GHG emissions of an FCC between 0.783 and 0.869 tCO₂/tHVC. A steam cracker processes naphtha at 0.700 and ethane at 0.964 for an average GHG emissions level of 0.832 tCO₂/tHVC. A PDH unit produces 1.231 tCO₂/tHVC (see Figure 3 ). Inovacat has completed bench-scale and pilot plant test - ing of this technology and is currently finalising the front end engineering design (FEED) study for a demonstration unit to be operated at an Asian refinery. The demonstration plant will start operations in early 2025 to commercialise the technology in 2027. Gasolfin is in fundraising mode to finance this programme up to commercialisation. Phase Three includes post-2040 operations to achieve 2050 targets of net zero emissions and beyond. The technol - ogies currently under development include bio-based olefins via gasification of bio-feedstocks. A disadvantage is that these technologies currently do not always scale well. Another pos - sible route is e-fuels and e-olefins through e-methanol. The advantage is that they scale well but are not yet mature. The profitability of these routes has not yet been proven. The next several decades should prove to be interest - ing in terms of managing the expected declining naphtha demand while continuing to meet the olefin production requirements. We are fortunate to be able to play a role in these critical years to come. References 1 Fitzgibbon T, Simmons T, Szarek G, Varpa, S From Crude Oil to Chemicals: How Refineries Can Adapt to Shifting Demand , McKinsey & Company.




0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0


0.78 0.81


0.45 0.49

Figure 3 Comparison with existing technologies

2 Energy and GHG Reductions in the Chemical Industry via Catalytic Processes: Annexes; International Energy Agency, International Council of Chemical Associations, Dechema , 2013, pp17-21. 3 Dziedziak C R, Murphy J J, Olefin production pathways with reduced CO₂ emissions, PTQ Q3 2023 , pp39-47. Q Industry sources project FCC market expansion to more than $8.75 billion by 2030 (vs $6.78 billion today). To what extent is this due to new reactor and catalyst formulations? A Melissa Clough Mastry, Global Director of Technology and Technical Services, BASF Refining Catalysts This question relates to the long-term viability of FCC oper - ations globally. From a catalyst standpoint, it is certain that over the past decade, the innovations brought to market by FCC catalyst vendors have enabled FCC operators to stay profitable and competitive. We have seen many cases where an FCC is prone to be permanently shut down due to either profitability concerns or environmental concerns. Catalyst technology can help or fully alleviate some of those concerns. As an example, environmental regulations in certain parts of the world relating to SOx and particulate matter (including particulate matter composition) can and have been addressed by implementing innovative technologies, specifically by employing an attrition-resistant technol - ogy or simply a technology that does not introduce certain chemicals or elements. In terms of SOx, we have seen suc - cess from refiners and FCC operators who have started to employ or change their SOx additive strategy to put them back into a state of compliance. Certainly, in terms of profitability, this will be a challenge for every refinery, especially those in areas of high market pressure. For this approach, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the catalyst solution has to be specially tailored. However, we have seen refiners improve their FCC com - petitiveness by enhancing profitability via pure throughput optimisation (for example, by employing a low delta coke catalyst in a heat-constrained operation) or by shifting the product mix to a more valuable slate (for example, by focus - ing on high-value products, including LPG olefins and/or high octane gasoline).


Catalysis 2024

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