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Worldwide Refinery Processing Review (Individual Technology)

Publication date:3Q 2013
Item#: B1021

Product Treating and Blending

In this product treating and blending section, new products and topics include:

Regulatory specifications for the acceptable levels of various compounds (e.g., sulfur, benzene, aromatics, etc.) in transportation fuels have been put in place in many regions around the world. The product treating and blending topics focus on strategies to remove contaminants (mainly sulfur and benzene) from refined product without the use of hydrogen. Polishing applications to meet stringent sulfur specifications have emerged commercially with a significant amount of R&D work investigating novel and alternative approaches to product treating. The popular non-hydrogen desulfurization methods covered in R&D include adsorption, oxidation, ionic liquid, and membrane. Besides sulfur removal, gasoline benzene reduction is also a critical treatment requirement as benzene is known to be a carcinogen, therefore its level needs to be reduced in the final gasoline pool.

Even though hydrotreating remains the most popular method for sulfur treatment worldwide, non-hydrogen treating still remains a viable option. Some of the drawbacks of hydrotreating include large carbon footprint, high hydrogen consumption, and expensive operation. Current non-hydrogen commercial technologies exist to remove refractory sulfur as a final polishing step before the fuels are delivered to the market rather than a substitute to hydrotreating. Overall, alternative treatment methods that consume less energy and hydrogen have become of great interest to the refining industry in terms of both current/future commercial applications and the ever-growing research and development activity in this field.

Many refiners operate old, outdated blending systems in their refinery plants. As refinery processes become more complicated and new blendstocks are integrated into the product pool, a robust and efficient blending control system will be required at each plant. Optimization of blending systems will result in significant economic gains as regulatory specifications on fuel contaminants and quality standards become more stringent. Additionally, the integration of bio-based blendstocks (i.e., ethanol and biodiesel) into the final product pool has led to additional challenges to be dealt with in the refinery blending plant. There is a greater propensity for refiners to blend C4 into the gasoline pool, especially in the US with cheap shale gas driving the price of C4 down. Inline blending is becoming more popular over batch blending as benefits of inline blending include reduced blend time, reduced storage capacity, decreased manpower, and decreased quality giveaway. As a result, the role of analyzers have grown from just simply checking fuel specifications to a more current dynamic role where process analyzers are responsible for more parameters (meeting aromatic and sulfur content) along with possessing flexibility to adjust to changing market conditions. Additionally, the product treating and blending section features the latest trends and technology offerings, including:

desulfurization, sulfur oxidation, ODS, membrane desulfurization, ionic liquid desulfurization, sulfur extraction, gasoline treating, jet fuel treating, kerosene treating, diesel treating, oxidation of thiols, sulfur removal, benzene removal, benzene alkylation, contaminants removal, gasoline blending, gasoline pool, blending process control, fuel (gasoline, diesel, jet fuel) additive/components,