• Industry sources project FCC market expansion to more than $8.75 billion by 2030 (vs $6.78 billion today). To what extent is this due to new reactor and catalyst formulations?



  • Melissa Clough Mastry, BASF Refining Catalysts, melissa.mastry@basf.com

    This question relates to the long-term viability of FCC operations globally. From a catalyst standpoint, it is certain that over the past decade, the innovations brought to market by FCC catalyst vendors have enabled FCC operators to stay profitable and competitive. We have seen many cases where an FCC is prone to be permanently shut down due to either profitability concerns or environmental concerns. Catalyst technology can help or fully alleviate some of those concerns.

    As an example, environmental regulations in certain parts of the world relating to SOx and particulate matter (including particulate matter composition) can and have been addressed by implementing innovative technologies, specifically by employing an attrition-resistant technology or simply a technology that does not introduce certain chemicals or elements. In terms of SOx, we have seen success from refiners and FCC operators who have started to employ or change their SOx additive strategy to put them back into a state of compliance.
    Certainly, in terms of profitability, this will be a challenge for every refinery, especially those in areas of high market pressure. For this approach, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and the catalyst solution has to be specially tailored. However, we have seen refiners improve their FCC competitiveness by enhancing profitability via pure throughput optimisation (for example, by employing a low delta coke catalyst in a heat-constrained operation) or by shifting the product mix to a more valuable slate (for example, by focusing on high-value products, including LPG olefins and/or high octane gasoline).