Jason Goodson - BASF
Joe McLean - Astron Inc.
Catalyst losses pose a significant challenge in the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) industry, and nearly all units have experienced a loss problem at some point. Catalyst losses on the reactor side result in high fines carryover with the products, which can result in the main fractionator being inoperable due to erosion and pluggage in the slurry circuit or off-specification slurry product. Catalyst losses on the regenerator side can lead to high particulate matter (PM) emissions or problems operating the flue gas train and/or power recovery expander due to pluggage and erosion. Understanding the root cause of elevated losses can prevent a unit shutdown due to excessive catalyst additions, stack opacity that is out of consent or the inability to fluidize catalyst. Additionally, with more stringent environmental regulations coming soon, it is crucial that these fine particles stay in the unit (and not out the stack).
Understanding cyclone fundamentals and catalyst attrition allows for the monitoring and troubleshooting of these losses. This presentation will explain the fundamental principles of catalyst losses such as fluidization, cyclone system components, catalyst properties, and the difference between attrition and cyclone malfunction. By understanding where and how cyclones can fail as well as the mechanisms of attrition, refiners can prevent a unit shutdown by troubleshooting the cause of losses early and making the proper operational changes quickly.