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Fact and Fantasy in Catalyst Selection

Presented By

George Hoekstra - Hoekstra Trading


It is not easy to choose a catalyst these days. There is a proliferation of products – for example, you have 200 different options for choosing a diesel hydrotreating catalyst, and each vendor touts a different solution. Hoekstra Trading is the only company doing open market, competitive testing of catalysts. By “open market”, we mean our test results are available on the open market to anyone willing to share the cost.

We have completed a five year, $1.5 million pilot plant testing program on 39 hydroprocessing catalysts, plus five years of market research on the catalyst business. Our client list includes 19 companies: – 12 refiners, 4 catalyst suppliers, and 3 outside investors. In this presentation, I will raise ten questions that you grapple with when choosing a catalyst for a hydroprocessing, FCC, or reforming unit:

  1. Who has the best catalysts?
  2. How much better are today’s catalysts than those of the past?
  3. How reliable are vendor claims for improved performance of new catalysts?
  4. Do claimed benefits of new catalysts translate real benefits on real units?
  5. How reliable are pilot plant tests for predicting commercial unit performance?
  6. How often does a pilot plant test swing a catalyst decision?
  7. What drives most catalyst decisions – Economic value? Relationships? Politics?
  8. What are the risks of using new, unproven catalysts?
  9. How variable are prices charged to different refiners for the same catalyst?
  10. How profitable is the catalyst business?

I will propose answers in the form of a contrast between fact and fantasy – that is, what is the common perception about these questions (fantasy), and what does the hard data show? – And we will invite you to share your ideas and experience.

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