Making innovative catalysts to trigger a reaction in chemical, gas and refining processes

When you are creating high-quality petrochemical end products, you must first trigger a reaction.

Phillip J Parker
ExxonMobil Catalysts & Technology

Viewed : 2415

Article Summary

Forming the catalysts
Creating a catalyst begins with creating the active materials through hydrothermal synthesis. This process combines several raw materials into a slurry that is poured into a reactor. The reactor applies heat and agitates the material, which results in the formation of catalytic crystals. The mulling process takes the extrudate, now dried into powder form, and mixes them with binding agents and forms a doughy paste. Engineers put the paste through an extrusion machine, where it is formed into long thin strands, like spaghetti. Catalysts can be extruded in different sizes and shapes — changing the shape can change the performance attributes of the catalyst.

Now that the catalysts have been formed, they enter a phase of calcination, which is a heating process. Inside the kiln, the catalyst is constantly increasing in temperature, from start to finish, burning off impurities to create a more pure form of the catalyst.


The keys that unlock this process are catalysts developed at our state-of-the-art facility in Clinton, New Jersey. Our scientists work with customers in Clinton and at their facilities around the world to conceive, create and test ExxonMobil catalysts to ensure high quality and exceptional performance before deployment.

Confirming exceptional performance
Once they are formed our catalysts go through an exhaustive testing process. The next step is high throughput chemisorption (HTC), a measuring process that looks at the quality and availability of metals in the catalyst. These measurements give engineers an estimate of the product’s catalytic performance.

Once the catalytic characterisation of the catalyst has been determined, skilled ExxonMobil engineers test the physical properties of the catalyst. The modulus of rupture equipment measures how the catalyst performs under pressure. This is a real-life simulation that allows scientists to determine how the catalyst will cope in the environments in which it will eventually be used

Optimising physical properties
Catalysts that successfully pass through the initial development, processing and testing phases are subjected to further tests to ensure they have optimum physical properties, including a test that evaluates surface area.

After both catalytic and physical characterisation has been determined, the catalysts then go through catalyst activity tests that measure acidity, selectivity and metal activity. Multiple rounds of simulations mimic a real chemical or refining process to prove the catalysts trigger a reaction and ensures consistent, high-yield performance.
Production on a global scale
When deemed fit for production, the catalysts are sent to ExxonMobil’s Beaumont laboratory for first production on a commercial scale, though we have a range of options to commercially produce around the world. If commercial-scale production is successful, global-scale commercial production takes place. If the commercial scale up is unsuccessful, design work continues until the desired specifications are met.

Ensuring  optimum performance
Quality control to ensure optimum performance is an important part of our commercial process and is performed at our ExxonMobil Global Chemical Technology Laboratory. Once evaluated, the catalysts are shipped to customers around the world to be used in innovative gas, chemical and refining processes.

Designed with you in mind
From start to finish, our extensive catalyst creation process is designed with you in mind. Because of the thorough analysis of our expert staff, you can trust that when your products need a reaction, our innovative catalysts will be there to trigger one.

Let‘s look at some of the processes and licensed technologies that use our catalysts.
ExxonMobil™ helps refiners and petrochemical manufacturers increase capacity, lower costs, improve margins, and operate safe, reliable and efficient facilities. In our commitment to helping customers implement best practices and achieve better results, we provide cutting-edge proprietary catalysts and license advantaged process technologies for refining, gas and chemical needs.

Catalysts and Technology Licensing offers its customers a portfolio of high-performing catalysts and advanced process technologies backed by a legacy of continuous innovation and a commitment to maintaining strong customer relationships. ExxonMobil offers decades of operational expertise to ensure that our customers have access to the industry’s best solutions: The same world-class innovations and technologies we use in our own facilities. Our role as an owner operator uniquely positions us as experts in this area. From planning and installation to plant start-up and beyond, we continue to offer our services and know-how to customers well after implementation. Whether it’s for producing paraxylene, lubricants, fuels or other products, ExxonMobil would like to partner with you on your success.

Our decades of expertise in chemical production allow us to offer innovation and expertise to the chemical industry. Our high-quality catalysts and process technologies offer methods to upgrade low- value chemicals into high-value products in innovative and cost- effective ways. They can be used to manufacture chemicals and polymers used in creating polyethylene, nylon, styrene and other high-performance materials.

Our high-performance catalysts and advanced process technologies can bring big benefits to refining companies. We can offer industry- leading advantages in fuel production, resid conversion and lubes production. Our technologies can offer higher product yields, convert low-value products to higher-value end products and enable the production of high-quality base stocks for engine oil production. They can also help to meet regulatory requirements for sulphur and benzene removal.

ExxonMobil Catalysts and Technology Licensing also bring our experience in innovation to offer cost-effective, low-risk solutions for H2S clean-up and syngas production. Gas-treating technology can enable customers to meet stringent emissions standards. Our technologies can also assist in the production of high-quality synthetic fuels from methanol derived from natural gas.

Add your rating:

Current Rating: 4

Your rate: