2021 AFPM Summit Virtual Edition: FUSION® FCC Catalyst—A unique approach to catalyst design
LAMMA KHOEDIR, W. R. Grace & Co.
FUSION® catalyst is a next-generation fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) technology that employs a novel advanced matrix binding system, designed to enhance product yields for refineries processing residuum feedstocks.
One of the keys to optimal FCC catalyst performance is striking the right balance between zeolite and matrix, both in terms of selectivity and activity. Historically, catalyst systems containing (1) a high matrix input to maximize conversion of bottoms, and (2) a high zeolite input to impart favorable coke and gas selectivities have been known to outperform individual catalyst offerings. Grace has successfully commercialized these types of catalyst systems in more than 100 refineries worldwide, and they continue to deliver differentiated value with technology advancements. Up until now, however, the mechanism to unlock premium coke to bottoms performance has been achieved through the combination and balance of complementary catalyst components.
A unique approach to catalyst design. Through R&D, manufacturing and processing advances, Grace has developed FUSION® catalyst with an advanced matrix binding system that reduces the proximate distance between multiple synergistic technology components into the span of homogeneous single particle. This unique characteristic reduces the diffusion path length compared to legacy catalyst systems or separate particle metals trap solutions.
The single particle design also contains optimized mesoporosity and increased macroporosity to enable effective diffusion and cracking of larger feed molecules (FIG. 1). These factors combined facilitate pre-cracking of heavy feed molecules and combined with the latest generation of vanadium and nickel trapping technologies (FIG. 2), deliver premium coke selective bottoms cracking.
FIG. 1. Hg-pore size distribution of the single particle FUSION® catalyst vs. traditional catalyst systems such as GENESIS®.
FIG. 2. Electron microprobe analysis image of laboratory deactivated catalysts showing the presence of a) RE/V and b) Al/Ni hotspots.
FUSION® catalyst and its advanced matrix binding system not only deliver optimized yields, but also broaden the window for future catalyst design and innovation. FUSION® is an innovative FCC catalyst solution with functional qualities and unique catalyst design architecture that have proven to provide differentiated value to our industry over the past 12 months.
Catalyst technology has long played an important role to help refiners create and capture differentiated value. Value creation can be derived from opportunity feedstock cost savings, improved product yield efficiencies and new operational objectives. Grace is committed to driving focused catalyst technology innovation as a tool to help our industry capture value across each of these fields—within leading catalyst families, entirely new platforms, such as FUSION®, and flexible additive technologies.
Commercial success. Over the past year, FUSION® catalyst has been deployed in unique operations in North America, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific to upgrade performance. While operational strategies have differed among the initial trials, the common thread is consistent value creation in operations with moderate-to-high levels of feedstock contaminant metals.
An example is the ongoing operation at an integrated global oil and gas supplier in Europe where FUSION® catalyst has enabled the processing of cost-effective, low-quality feed. The new technology demonstrated notable improvements in coke selectivity and bottoms upgrading to maximize high-value products (TABLE 1). The refiner has been able to realize an uplift in the range of $0.55/BBLFF–$1.17/BBLFF (within the boundary of the FCC unit), depending on the market economics.
TABLE 1. Commercial yield shifts: FUSION® catalyst provides improved performance vs. the incumbent.
Takeaway. While our industry is shifting, the conversion of heavy feedstocks with high-contaminant metals will continue to be critical to maximizing profitability from the FCCU. Further, increasing the yields of more desired product streams like cracked naphtha, middle distillates and petrochemical feedstocks remains an important target to generate an economic uplift. However, processing difficult and more cost-attractive feedstocks to produce high-value products often remains a technical challenge due to limitations like wet gas compressor and air blower capacity. FUSION® catalyst technology has proven to be a valuable tool to help FCC operators stay competitive in the face of headwinds, constraints and changing operational strategies—from both feedstock cost savings and yield profitability perspectives.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lamma Khodeir is Market Segment Manager for Grace Refining Technologies. She joined Grace as an R&D researcher leading new FCC product developments before moving to her current position. Dr. Khodeir earned a diploma degree in chemistry and a PhD in technical chemistry from the Ruhr-University of Bochum, Germany.