Aiming the challenges of the future

Based in the south Russia Krasnodar innovative chemical technology company - Scientific Industrial Enterprise (SIE) Neftehim LLC is one of Russia’s hundred most competent companies in its field. The company presents ISOPLAT, new efficient technology for the environmentally friendly high-octane gasoline components production with ultra-low aromatics and benzene. OILMARKET magazine met with the SIE NEFTEHIM President and CEO, Alexander Nikitovich Shakun.

Alexander N. Shakun
SIE Neftehim LLC

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Article Summary

The development of fuel markets in the modern world often poses the most unexpected challenges for technology developers. Since the Euro1 standard was introduced in the countries of the European Economic Union in 1992, many countries of the world and even individual regional states in large countries, such as California in the United States, have joined the challenging and sometimes exhausting race to get ahead of clean motor fuels and gasoline in particular.

Some countries were not in a hurry to join the race for environmentally friendly fuels, but subsequently picked up such a pace that they were the first to launch Euro6, with tightly limited emissions of automobile engines, like Japan, which advanced from Euro1 to Euro6 in 2000-2009.

Other “slow starters” made a successful transition, despite the huge volumes of their markets, as was the case with Russia, India and China.

Over the span of the first two decades of the 21st century hundreds of refineries around the world, invested billions of dollars in the production of environmentally friendly fuels that determine the quality of emissions, and technologists often had to solve very complicated puzzles, predicting the petroleum or diesel fuels domination in the further development of the transportation and refining industry. In 2010-s, the increasingly dynamic development of the electromobile transport made these challenges even more complicated.

It should be noted here that, despite very dynamic progress with electric vehicles and the development of renewable energy, which will give more than 70% increase in energy supply by 2040, according to BP’s authoritative review Energy Outlook 2040 for 2019, the demand for transport fuels by 2040 will increase from 56mn b/d (2.8bn t of oil equivalent per year) to 61mn b/d. (3.05bn toe/yr).

This increase in the production of fuels - 2mn b/d (or 100mn t of oil equivalent per year) will be accounted for by road transport — automobiles, trucks, as well as dynamically growing in Asia two and three-wheeled vehicles, as well as 3mn b/d (or 150mn toe/yr) for aviation and maritime transport.
Trillions of dollars will be required to produce these fuels, according to the BP Energy Outlook 2040 study for 2019.

OILMARKET: I would like to immediately emphasize the importance of the further development of technologies for the crude output and motor fuels production in the coming decades so that the illusion of “quick and painless” switch from cars with combustion engines to electric cars today will not mislead anyone.

And now the first question - how do you see the key trends in the Eurasian markets in the production of environmentally friendly modern fuels for internal combustion engines?

ALEXANDER SHAKUN: In the context of the fact that many refineries in Russia, Kazakhstan and other countries of the Eurasian region, as well as in India and China have already completed quite expensive refinery upgrading projects for the production of environmentally friendly fuels, and investments in the coming years will be mainly directed in crude output, the market needs low-cost and, at the same time, effective solutions for the production of high-quality components of high-octane gasoline with a low content of aromatics.

Further development of gasoline consumption in environmental context, primarily aims to reduce the content of aromatic hydrocarbons, benzene and other harmful substances:
1) a decrease in the share of aromatic hydrocarbons to less than 25% vol.,
2) a decrease in the share of benzene to less than 0.8% vol.,
3) reducing the proportion of olefins to 4-10% vol.,
4) reduction in the share of MTBE to less than 7% vol.,
5) reducing the proportion of total sulphur to less than 10mg/kg.
It is important to emphasize the special urgency of reducing the share of aromatic components and benzene, which is crucially important for the  engine emissions to meet Euro5 and Euro6 standards.
Regional trends in the environmentally friendly motor fuels markets are shown in Table 1.

    EN 228    EPA-Е10    JIS K 2202
    (EU)    (US)    (Japan)

Aromatics, % vol.    ≤ 35    21 -25    -
Olefins,% vol.    ≤ 18    4-10    -
Benzene,% vol.    ≤ 1    0.6 -0.8    ≤ 1
MTBE,% vol.    ≤ 22    none    ≤ 7
Ethanol,% vol.    ≤ 10    9.6 -10    ≤ 3
Sulphur, ppm mass.    ≤ 10    8 -11    ≤ 10

Table 1 Tightening environmental requirements for modern automotive gasoline

OILMARKET: Isomalk-2, Isomalk-3 processes, developed by SIE NEFTEHIM, are very well known not only in Russian and the post-Soviet market, but also abroad - in Eastern Europe, India and China - everywhere where high-octane gasoline blends will be very relevant for decades and more for the cars as well as for the 2–3 wheeled vehicles. The Isomalk-2 process is the most large-scale solution for the production of environmentally friendly gasoline components in Russia since the beginning of the 21st century, which is ahead of all foreign licensors combined in the total volumes of isomerate production.

Please tell us what’s prompted your company to develop a new process for producing high-octane gasoline components?

ALEXANDER SHAKUN: For refiners it is important not only to limit aromatics in gasoline, but also to reduce the operating costs of its production, to increase the yield of the target product.

The ISOPLAT process allows to increase the output of high-octane auto fuel components compared to traditional schemes, when C7 - hydrocarbons are distributed between the feedstock of the isomerisation and reforming units.

This solution is suitable both for newly designed units and for already existing reforming plants, which is very important for refineries in Russia, producing K5 class gasoline under very tight state regulation.

This process is already at a very mature stage of development, the process and the catalysts have passed laboratory and pilot tests, the industrial production of catalysts has been mastered.

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