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Worldwide Refinery Processing Review (Individual Technology)

Publication date:4Q 2016
Item#: B1008

Fluid Catalytic Cracking

Change is not new in the refining world, but the magnitude and speed of the oil price collapse of over 70% from the middle of 2014 to early 2016 caused by oil glut is significant. The change has had a positive impact on fuels, particularly gasoline consumption worldwide that has benefitted many gasoline-producing FCCUs. The surge in gasoline demand is a "sea-change" for the FCC industry.

The ongoing shale boom in the US has provided FCC technology licensers the opportunity to tailor technology solutions for processing these light, sweet paraffinic feeds. In spite of the current dieselization of the world, FCCU profitability is still at its best when serving as a primary gasoline producer, making the unit that much more valuable. However, a number of challenges are presented when dealing with this feedstock. The light paraffinic nature of tight oil leads to coke generation issues within the unit, where insufficient coke leads to heat balance issues in the regenerator. Additionally, the paraffinic nature of tight oil leads to an 8-10 number decline in the octane value of FCC gasoline. New metal contaminants, mainly iron and calcium, are also present, which contribute to catalyst deactivation. Many companies are taking actions to find the best technologies and practices towards solving these dilemmas.

The importance of the FCCU as a gasoline producer cannot be ignored, and as a result, there continues to be technological improvements made to improve the production as well as the quality of this fuel. Two major drivers for advancements in this field are the desire to improve olefinicity (and consequently octane) and to reduce product sulfur. However, there is also increased interest in LCO, olefins, and aromatics (BTX) production, the processing of resid feeds, and in lowering emissions due to concerns about global warming.

The FCCU is also lending itself to an additional role as biofeeds user to alleviate growing concerns over energy security. As global fossil fuel demand continues to grow and with world oil reserves gradually depleting, the development of alternative energy sources is needed. Stricter environmental legislation will also accelerate biofuels development. The processing of biofeeds, specifically cellulosic materials and triglycerides, in the FCC to produce biofuels and petrochemicals is currently being investigated. FCC technology is well established in refineries and renewable FCC technologies can be implemented with minor modifications.

Additionally, the fluid catalytic cracking section features the latest trends and technology offerings, including:

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The Review is sold for the exclusive use of the subscriber. No other use, duplication, or publication of the Review or any part contained therein is permitted without written consent from Hydrocarbon Publishing Company, P.O. Box 661, Southeastern PA 19399 (USA).

Keywords: primary conversion process, gasoline, diesel, LCO, propylene, butylenes, light olefins, LPG, fluidized bed, riser, ULSD, ULSG, ultra-low sulfur, rare earth, dieselization, SOX, NOX, slurry oil, fuel oil, fuel specifications, gasoline benzene, reformulated gasoline, RFG, CO, particulate matter, mild FCC, dual-riser, multiple riser, ZSM-5, additives, zeolite, matrix, co-catalysts, RFCC, biofeeds, catalyst regenerator, power recovery, advanced process control, opportunity crudes, energy efficiency, electrostatic precipitators, ESP, flue gas scrubber, tight oil, residual feeds