Innovations in industrial zeolite mesoporisation deliver robust catalytic benefits in hydrocracking

As the key value generator in many established refineries, increasing the output towards desired fractions in a hydrocracker is a major commercial and efficiency driving force.

Rob Snoeijs
Zeopore Technologies NV

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Article Summary

In zeolite-based hydrocracking catalysts, mesoporous faujasites have proven able to yield significantly more middle distillates at the expense of undesired gas formation. Nevertheless, the industrial adoption of mesoporous faujasites is hampered by costly mesoporisation technologies, implying copious amounts of expensive templates and, moreover, significant reductions in catalytic activity based on losses in intrinsic zeolite properties, such as microporosity and acidity.

Post-synthetic mesoporisation technologies, which remove these bespoke hurdles, offer a superior yield of middle distillates and increased activity compared to both conventional and state-of-the-art mesoporous zeolites. Zeopore recently finalised a hydrocracking campaign executed on a refinery feed, using base metal catalysts in both sweet and sour modes, attaining middle distillate benefits of up to 4 wt%, which are combined with a gain in activity (see Figure 1).

A key component of achieving this success is the quality of the mesoporous zeolite, says Zeopore’s CTO, Dr Danny Verboekend: “Making mesopores in zeolites on itself is actually not that hard… Yet the challenge is to achieve a specific level of mesoporosity and tuning secondary parameters as a function of the application. In this manner, mesopore quantity and quality are optimised, yielding the true potential of mesoporous zeolites.”

First-mover knowledge has been developed on how to relate the acidity and porosity characteristics of the zeolite powder to the hydrocracking performance of the resulting catalyst. Using unique descriptors, the catalytic performance of parent state-of-the-art mesoporous and Zeopore’s materials can be suitably related, paving the way to guidelines for the design of optimal faujasites for use in hydrocracking.

The benefits of the improved performance are clear, says CEO Kurt Du Mong: “These results yield an impressive 0.5 USD per barrel and 15 mln USD per cycle extra for an average cracker, making an attractive business case for any refiner. Moreover, reduced lights, lowered hydrogen consumption, and lower reactor temperature are increasingly valuable secondary benefits, as they positively impact the environmental footprint of the unit.”

Zeopore Technologies NV is currently commercialising its technologies for several applications and will use the obtained insights to maximise the benefits for refiners. The latter is achieved by maximising the catalytic potential combined with low-cost mesoporisation strategies.

This short case study originally appeared in PTQ's Technology In Action Feature - Q3 2023 Issue.

For more information contact: rob.snoeijs@zeopore.com

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