PTQ Q1 2023 Issue

pt q&a

More answers to these questions can be found at

Q How can the refining industry supply the aviation industry’s growing demand for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)? What are the most efficient pathways? A Yvon Bernard, Renewables Product Line Business Development Manager, Axens, Yvon.BERNARD@axens. net Today, governmental authorities, refining companies, and the aviation industry are collectively exploring differ - ent technology pathways to substitute fossil-based jet fuels with SAF. A single solution will not fulfil future SAF demand. Rather, a combination of different technologies for every available feedstock around the world is required. Among the seven pathways currently certified under the ASTM D-7566 specification for synthetic kerosene to be blended into Jet A1 pool, Axens provides mature tech - nology for three main pathways (HEFA-SPK, FT-SPK, ATJ- SPK) via the following solutions: • Vegan, the hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA- SPK) pathway. This is a flexible solution to produce renew - able diesel and SAF through the hydrotreatment of a wide range of lipids (renewable vegetable oils and animal fats). • Gasel, the Fischer-Tropsch (FT-SPK) pathway, converts synthesis gas (H₂+CO) from various origins into a flex - ible slate of lower carbon fuels, including SAF. To provide renewable synthetic gases from biomass, Axens developed BioTfueL, which unlocks SAF and advanced biofuels pro - duction from energy crops and agricultural and forestry res - idues via a thermochemical and Fischer-Tropsch pathway. • Jetanol, the ethanol-to-jet pathway (ATJ-SPK), is the pro - cess by which low-carbon ethanol is converted to SAF via different steps: dehydration, oligomerisation, hydrogena - tion, and fractionation. Axens also provides a solution combining Futurol and Jetanol to produce renewable fuels. Futurol uses enzymatic conversion to produce advanced ethanol (2G) from ligno - cellulosic biomass (energy crops, agricultural and forestry residues). The common threads running through these technolo - gies are flexibility, reliability, and the realisation of decades of technology development, demonstrating that Axens is ready to meet the challenges of scaling up SAF capacity in the coming years to provide low-carbon fuels into the market. Q Projected diesel shortages could become a crisis if winter conditions are severe, potentially knocking out already strained power grids. What strategies should refiners rely on to increase distillate-range material? A Michael Allegro, Technical Services Specialist, BASF, Sites with both hydrocracking and FCC can shift the VGO feed towards hydrocracking when distillate material is

preferred over gasoline. While this can reduce the operat - ing capacity of the FCC, it can also create a need to process UCO from the hydrocracker. In these operating modes, bottoms upgrading capability in the FCC is a key need for the refiner. Those units would also likely benefit from a more distillate-focused operating mode for the FCC and, depending on the duration, a catalyst tuned to produce more LCO. A Joris Mertens, Principal Consultant, KBC (A Yokogawa Company), joris.mertens@kbcglobal The availability of electrical power in January/February 2023 causes concern throughout Europe. However, in Europe, where mid-distillates generate very little power, power availability concerns are not driven by a shortage of diesel but rather by a potential lack of natural gas. The absence of a substantial part of the nuclear power gen - eration park in France further exacerbates this situation. Despite this, diesel is in short supply because of the self- imposed reduced distillate supply from Russia. The ability of refineries to switch from naphtha to diesel is limited by the facility’s design. Arbitrage, trading, and international groups are better positioned to capitalise on soaring diesel prices. In addition, it is well known that refiners can maximise diesel produc - tion in the short term, primarily by adjusting fractionator cut points. This option should be built into the refinery LP and site operational optimisation procedures. Severity reduc - tions on cat and hydrocrackers shift product selectivity from lighter to middle distillate products. However, they risk reducing the yield of high-value products (FCC light olefins) or increasing lower-value residuals (on the hydrocrackers). As a result, KBC observed through performance improve - ment studies that refiners often leave money on the table due to a variety of very technical (such as failing advanced control), communicative, and organisational issues (such as inadequate data collection and monitoring, or poor shift team handover). Meanwhile, investing significant capital to maximise die - sel yield is probably not worth consideration. In spite of soaring diesel prices, the surge of hybrid and fully electric vehicles should not be ignored. The shortage of diesel will probably not persist long term. A Mel Larson, Manager, Strategic Business, Becht, mlar- There are three major steps around the FCC:  Minimise diesel in FCC feed through better fractionation monitoring  Maximise C/O at lower riser temperature  Lower cutpoint of naphtha into LCO. The challenge here is that more LCO will add severity and demand to the exist - ing DHT system and, thus, possibly shorten catalyst run length. The economics of the shifts need close analysis.


PTQ Q1 2023

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