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Pushing the Limits of FCC Gasoline Desulfurization

Presented By

George Hoekstra - Hoekstra Trading Co


For forty years, refiners have struggled with a fundamental dilemma ‐‐ the desire to remove sulfur from FCC gasoline without destroying octane. It is a dilemma because, in gasoline hydrotreating, octane‐destroying olefin saturation reactions occur much faster than desulfurization reactions.

FCC gasoline hydrotreating became a major commercial process with the introduction of clean fuels mandates in the late 1990’s. These units are now being challenged to make even lower product sulfur to help meet Tier 3 gasoline regulations. Today there are 300 such units in the world. Many of them are being revamped, and more are being built, to make lower product sulfur with minimum octane loss.

To help refiners evaluate options for gasoline desulfurization, Hoekstra Trading LLC sponsored a pilot plant program in 2015. A major US refiner and two catalyst suppliers participated in the program. The program spans a range of conditions covering the normal operating window of today’s commercial units plus deep desulfurization. Four competitive catalysts were tested, spanning a wide range of activity. The pilot plant testing was done by C Solutions, the industry’s premier independent laboratory for testing hydroprocessing catalysts. The report on this project is available to anyone through Hoekstra Trading LLC.

In this presentation, we will show new data on how today’s catalysts perform on real commercial feeds, both within the normal operating window and at higher severity, into the region of deep desulfurization. We will show new data on the detailed chemistry of the process and present new insights on how gasoline hydrodesulfurization can be used to help meet Tier 3 gasoline specifications.

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