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Hydrocracking(HC) is utilized in refineries to upgrade a variety of feeds that range from coker naphtha to various heavy gas oils and residual fractions into lighter molecules. The hydrocracking process has emerged as the primary diesel producer in many refinery configurations, and as environmental regulations on transportation fuels continue to tighten, the hydrocracker will be one of the tools available to refiners to meet new product specifications. Unlike FCCU processes, hydrocrackers can effectively yield ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) streams whereas middle-distillate range FCC products (i.e. light cycle oil, LCO) will regularly require additional treating to meet product blending specifications.

How it will benefit you

Given the ongoing volatility in global oil markets caused by the continuing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic refiners can take advantage of the flexibility offered by hydrocrackers in a variety of ways including shifting to PCs, boosting residue conversion, producing higher margin lubricant base oil feed, and the processing of lower-priced crudes. In the short-term hydrocrackers will be looked to maximize middle distillates make amid a global shortage in diesel and jet fuel that has boosted middle distillate margins across the globe. But with diesel and gasoline demand expected to decline over the long-term more hydrocracking units in recent years are being directed towards naphtha make, with the light naphtha from hydrocracking units being directed to steam crackers to produce light olefins while the heavy naphtha is sent through additional processing steps to yield PX. And with the global crude slate growing heavier and sourer—and demand for HSFO declining due to the IMO's 0.5%-sulfur bunker spec and countries moving away from HSFO use for power generation to combat pollution—hydrocracking resid feeds like DAO and heavy coker gasoil into high-quality light products will continue to be a major area of focus for technology developers and researchers.

Process designers and catalyst manufacturers are feverishly developing cost-effective and energy-efficient hydrocracking technology and revamp options to satisfy the refining industry around the world. Hydrocracking technology licensers are looking at new ways to remove heavy polynuclear aromatics (HPNAs) from the unit as the buildup of HPNAs can lead to increased catalyst deactivation and fouling. Multiple-phase hydroprocessing units have also been developed to minimize hydrogen consumption while also reducing unit severity. Finally, the utilization of hydrocracking technologies to upgrade resid and/or renewable feeds to produce additional supplies of high-quality liquid products has been covered extensively through commercial projects and R&D work over the past several years.

What does it include

The current study, completed in 2Q 2022, begins with an updated look at the global hydrocracking market including middle distillate supply and demand fundamentals and prices and the ongoing surge in diesel and jet fuel demand and resulting shortage following the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to a comprehensive list of state-of-the-art technologies, recent innovations feature a discussion of Axens unique proprietary software model the company uses to optimize the energy consumption of its hydrocracking units ;a case study on the installation of the first Honeywell UOP external HPNA stripper by Tupras on the existing enhanced two-stage Unicracking hydrocracker at its Izmit refinery; Honeywell UOP's HC-410LT and HC-610LT hydrocracking catalysts designed for units having issues with formation of heavy polynuclear aromatic compounds; Catalyst Intelligence's proprietary hydroprocessing catalyst performance prediction model; Chevron Lummus Global's LC-HOPI+ bottom-of-the-barrel upgrading technology that is based on CLG's LC-FINIG ebullated-bed hydrocracking technology; and Axens RISE (Revamps Integrated Solutions Enterprise) approach which leverages its process, catalyst, and heater expertise early on in a renewable feed project development process.

The study also includes extensive discussions of plant operations and practices that identify valuable operating experiences and daily trouble-shooting techniques shared by veteran refining professionals around the world. New information in the hydrocracking plant operations and practices section includes preventing premature foam flooding in the high pressure (HP) amine absorber of a VGO mild hydrocracker and details of a proper catalyst selection process for a hydrocracker catalyst changeout according to PTT Global Chemical.

To plot future hydrocracking directions, the study gathers and reviews the latest patent applications and research papers regarding hydrocracking technology, including novel hydrocracking catalyst compositions and preparation methods; product-selective hydrocracking innovations designed to maximize the output of middle distillates, naphtha, gasoline, BTX, or LPG/light olefins; resid hydrocracking works including ebullated- and slurry-bed developments; hydrocracking of alternative feeds derived from Fischer-Tropsch (F-T) liquids and bio-based feeds; and more.

Publication details

Publication frequency

Single publication

Publication format

Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) file


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