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Transforming ULSD economics

The ability to produce diesel containing less than 10-ppm sulphur is no longer a differentiator in most  markets. Progressive refiners are pushing to make  ultra-low-sulphur diesel (ULSD) with improved fuel  properties from tougher feedstocks and often within  tight hydrogen budgets. Catalysts have a major role  to play here. They have the power to transform diesel  hydrotreating economics and turn ULSD units from cost  centres into significant sources of profit.

Technology Development
Over the past 10 years, Criterion Catalysts & Technologies (Criterion) has continually pushed the boundaries of hydroprocessing  catalyst technology and raised hydrodesulphurisation (HDS) activity  to ever higher levels (Figure 1). We have used our fundamental  understanding of catalyst structure and behaviour, our catalyst  manufacturing skills and our extensive commercial experience to  launch a series of innovative catalysts. These have enabled us to  keep pace with our customers’ increasingly complex demands, as  new clean fuels legislation has been introduced, competition has  intensified and margins have come under sustained pressure.

Our current catalyst portfolio is founded on two technology  platforms: ASCENT (now in its second generation) and  CENTERA®. Both of these platforms can be used to formulate  CoMo and NiMo catalysts; the former are ideal for low-severity- feed and hydrogen-constrained operations and the latter come  into their own with more challenging feeds, for example, with  higher end points, more cracked fractions and higher nitrogen  levels, or where there is a requirement to upgrade diesel  properties (cetane, cold flow, density, colour, etc.).

ASCENT catalysts have a mixture of Type I and II active sites and are generally suited to low- to moderate-pressure ULSD applications. They appeal to refiners seeking to strike the best balance between activity and hydrogen consumption; they are physically strong, which makes handling straightforward; and they are easily regenerated using low-cost, conventional one-step processes to give 90% or more of fresh catalyst activity.

CENTERA catalysts possess 100% Type II active sites and  hence offer the highest possible level of activity. Well suited  to moderate  to high-pressure ULSD units, they are made using  advanced techniques that result in excellent activity retention (the active sites are locked into place) to provide refiners with outstanding operational flexibility.

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