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Combating the Negative Effects of Iron in the FCCU at Philadelphia Energy Solutions

The growth in domestic crude production, specifically tight oils, resulted in new challenges for refiners. Elevated levels of contaminant iron in crude are becoming the norm. Downstream, iron poisoning in the FCCU was once an isolated phenomenon, limited to a handful of refiners processing opportunity crudes. Today, as domestic crude processing grows, more refiners are experiencing the effects of elevated iron in the FCCU. Even in the face of dynamic global crude prices, processing of domestic shale oils are expected to remain an important part of the refining landscape in North America and other regions throughout the world. To maintain operating flexibility and profitability, refiners need effective strategies to manage unconventional contaminant metals and minimize the unfavorable
consequences those metals can have on FCC unit operation, including loss in fuels selectivity, unstable circulation, and reduced bottom of the barrel conversion, ultimately leading to lower margins across the FCCU.

Prior to their closure in 2019 after a devastating fire, Philadelphia Energy Solutions Refining and Marketing, LLC (PES) operated a refinery complex on the US East Coast. The refinery processed a high percentage of domestic crude containing elevated iron levels. As a result, PES has observed iron
poisoning impacts at its resid FCCU. With a combination of operating strategies and FCC catalyst optimization, PES learned how to maintain profitable operations within a dynamic and challenging refining
environment. This presentation will describe the methods used to monitor, manage and minimize the impacts of high iron levels in the resid FCCU.

Doc Kirchgessner has provided technical service for W. R. Grace’s FCC catalyst and operations for nearly 40 years to refiners on six continents from Grace locations in the US, Australia and Singapore.

Doc is presently based in Grace’s Columbia, Maryland headquarters, providing services to customers in the US and Canada.

He holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Loyola University Maryland.

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Posted by: Evan Hyde

Evan Hyde is the director of field services for He previously was president of C2 Nano Technology where they researched surface treatments to combat fouling & corrosion issues in cokers & other petrochemical process units. He was a Senior Engineering Advisor for Becht Engineering Co., Inc. and has consulted on processing improvement and reliability initiatives for coking clients around the world. Prior to joining Becht, Evan worked for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering, as a process engineer, with assignments in research, and troubleshooting for heavy oil upgrading equipment. He holds a B.S. of Chemical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

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