Catalysis 2024 Issue

catalysis q&a

More answers to these questions can be found at

Q How are catalyst suppliers further enhancing catalyst formulations for refiners focused on processing a wider array of feedstocks (such as renewables, plastic waste, and heavy crudes)? A Benoit Durupt, Global Market Manager Hydro- processing, Axens, Reaching the ambitious objective of producing more sus- tainable fuels or petrochemical products is a big challenge for all players in the oil industry. It involves processing new types of feedstocks with a wide range of properties. To be viable, this evolution needs to rely on exist- ing assets and reliable, flexible, and proven processes. Hydroprocessing is an appropriate example of this kind of technology, which operators can have confidence in due to its 70 years of existence. It is used in almost every refinery in the world to treat a range of feedstocks to meet the fol- lowing objectives: • Producing sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) or hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) through co-processing or a hydropro- cessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) process such as the proprietary Vegan technology, processing various types of lipidic feedstocks. • Performing chemical recycling of plastics through co- processing or the proprietary Rewind Mix process. Axens has provided more than 300 licences and several hundred thousand tons of top-ranked hydroprocessing catalysts throughout the years, as well as high-standard technical services. The recent launch of a dedicated cata- lyst series (700 series) is designed to ensure reliable pro- cessing of renewable feedstocks with the highest yields of SAF and HVO during long cycles, either in co-processing or dedicated units. The 700 series also contains dedicated products for processing pyoils from waste plastics, allow- ing its smooth re-incorporation in a steam cracker without any detrimental impact on operation. Overall, significant work has been done on the support and active phase of the catalysts to take into account all the specificities of those new feedstocks while maintaining the highest flexibility of the global catalytic system. Minimising the environmental impact of our catalysts is essential. As a consequence, sustainability is one pillar of the development of the 700 series, with a particular focus on: • Outstanding activity and stability during the operation to minimise the need for catalyst replacement. • Full regenerability and rejuvenability through the proprie- tary Revival process to recover up to 95% of its activity after a full operating cycle, thus minimising consumption of metals and minerals required for new catalysts. A Guillaume Vincent, Technology Manager, BASF Refining Catalysts Both renewable or opportunistic feedstocks are being con- sidered by refiners to meet their environmental goals (for

example, Scope 3 emission reduction) or increase their profitability, respectively. Typically, these renewable feed - stocks, such as pyoils from waste plastics or biomass, can have a significant amount of metal poisons, such as alkali (for example, Na, K) and earth alkaline metals (for exam- ple, Ca, Mg). In addition, chlorides and oxygen-containing molecules might be present in these renewable feedstocks depending on the raw materials used during the thermo- chemical conversion process. Opportunistic feedstocks are typically cheaper but often have poorer qualities (such as high metal contents and lower API). Most often, these opportunistic feedstocks are associated with higher metal poison contents, such as nickel, vanadium, iron, and some others, as well as higher Conradson Carbon Residue (CCR) content, which might result in faster catalyst deactivation compared to conventional vacuum gas oil (VGO) or resid feedstocks. One important aspect to consider for the catalyst itself is how the pore structure of the base catalyst will handle such renewable or opportunistic feedstocks. The manufacturing process for fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts devel - oped by BASF is a big advantage compared to incorporated technologies when dealing with a wider array of feed- stocks. The in-situ technology brings the following benefits from the manufacturing process itself, such as: • Maximum surface porosity provides better tolerance against iron poisoning with respect to incorporated catalysts. • Maximum zeolite surface area to maximise coke-selective cracking activity. • The in-situ technology does not use any chloride-based binders during the manufacturing process, avoiding the introduction of chlorides into the FCC unit. This reduces corrosion and fouling issues (such as NH₄Cl deposits). • The lowest FCC catalyst sodium content in the industry improves catalyst activity retention. Chlorides present in pyoils from plastics and biomass are typically not detrimental to the FCC catalyst. However, an in-situ technology will help minimise the introduction of chlorides into FCC operations from the catalyst. Chlorides are known to reactivate the nickel already deposited at the catalyst edges, resulting in further coke and hydro- gen make. Consequently, nickel and vanadium passivation technologies might be incorporated into the catalyst for- mulation to passivate nickel and vanadium to minimise hydrogen and coke make when chlorides are present in the feedstock. For renewable feedstocks, such as pyoils from plastics and biomass, alkali and earth alkaline metals will neutralise the acid sites of the zeolite, resulting in catalytic activity deple- tion. Consequently, new passivation technologies tailored for biogenic and circular feedstocks are being studied and developed to upgrade these alternative feedstocks further while maximising activity maintenance. Additionally, the


Catalysis 2024

Powered by