Catalysis 2024 Issue

Incorporating new technology and tools for catalyst development

Factors affecting advances in catalyst development benefit from a wide range of expertise

Rene Gonzalez Editor, PTQ

E fficient conversion of fossil-based and renewable feedstocks to fuels and petrochemicals compels better performance from downstream catalytic con- version processes. Improving reactor performance equates to improved catalyst capabilities. Close adherence to the following developments plays a key role in developing and

Zeolite catalysts The zeolite class of crystalline aluminosilicates continues to play a crucial role in refinery and petrochemical catal- ysis. Their shape selectivity allows them to discriminate between molecules based on size and shape. This feature is particularly advantageous in the cracking of hydrocarbons, contributing to increased yields of desired products while minimising unwanted byproducts, such as with the alkyl- ation of butylenes over a zeolite catalyst to meet demand expected to reach 670 thousand tonnes by 2035, com- pared to around 500 thousand tonnes in 2023, according to a ChemAnalyst study. Besides its well-established role as a gasoline octane-enhancing additive, its market value is rapidly extending into areas from solvents to plasticisers, to name a few. Tailoring the pore size and shape of zeolites to match specific hydrocarbon molecules allows for better shape selectivity in catalytic reactions Zeolites’ three-dimensional framework structure of tet- rahedral atoms provides high surface area, acidity, and shape selectivity. Improvements in refinery zeolites aim to enhance their catalytic efficiency, selectivity, and stability. Some areas of improvement include enhanced porosity for more efficient accessibility of reactants to active sites and improved overall catalytic activity. Tailoring the pore size and shape of zeolites to match specific hydrocarbon molecules allows for better shape selectivity in catalytic reactions, improving the efficiency of processes such as isomerisation and FCC. Resid upgrading trends involving the FCC unit benefit from advances in zeolite materials. Just recently, Grace’s FCC Segment Marketing Manager, Dr. Bani Cipriano, said, “One of the trends we see is that the economics of upgrad- ing resid in the FCC are very strong. Our customers are taking advantage of this trend, processing heavier, higher

applying high-performance catalysts: • Sustainable catalyst applications • Zeolite and shape-selective catalysis • Single-atom catalysts • Advancements in hydroprocessing catalysts • Advanced simulation and AI applications. Sustainability

Compared to refinery operations a generation ago, sustain- ability is on par with profitability. Some would say it takes precedence. For example, the industry’s dual focus on pro- ducing zero-emissions fuels while controlling emissions from major refinery conversion units, such as the fluid cat- alytic cracking (FCC) unit, demonstrates how sustainability can be achieved over a wider operating window. Against this backdrop, demonstrated sustainability can also be seen with more effective and environmen- tally benign catalysts, such as FCC additives with more durable precious metals via support surface morphology. Sustainability strategies play an important role in the elimination of hazardous byproducts ranging from metals contaminants to sulphur-bearing compounds. This calls for continuous addition to a catalyst’s capabilities, such as when upgrading biomass-derived materials. Much has been discussed on hydrocarbon feedstock pretreatment, such as FCC feed pretreatment. However, catalyst contamination and deactivation with the higher volumes of renewable and biofeeds entering the market are relatively new. For example, with the bioconversion of lignocellulosic feeds, conversion limits with these new feed types can be resolved using pretreatment systems to dis- integrate cross-linked fractions of lignocellulosic biomass. Pretreatment can avoid other unexpected challenges when introducing biomass feeds into a hydrotreater and its cata- lyst. For example, even when co-processing less than 10% biomass through a hydrotreater, problems such as dispro- portionately large heat releases have been observed.


Catalysis 2024

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