UPGRADER: the new generation of catalysts for bottoms conversion and liquid products maximization

Presented By

Jose Marcos Ferreira - Fabrica Carioca de Catalisadores (FCCSA.com.br)

Conference: Rio de Janiero 2021

Refinery profitability depends, ceteris paribus, on the crack spread, i.e., the difference between the raw material cost and the prices of products. Both sides of the refining industry – crude oil purchase and product sale – involve the commodities market, whose prices are volatile and out of control for any player.

More complex refineries have the benefit of flexibility of their facilities to process several types of crudes, including heavy feeds, opportunity crudes and unconventional oils (Light Tight Oil or tar sands). These refiners are better positioned to acquire feeds at a discounted price and increase their refining margin.

These feedstocks, however, have contaminants such as Ni, V, Fe, Ca, Na and other metals, which reduce conversion and impair the selectivity of FCC units using conventional catalysts. Even at high catalyst addition rates (CAR), bottoms conversion, catalyst activity, and coke and gas selectivities decrease due to the inevitable limitations of mass transfer. As a result, the total value of FCCUs products and their profitability are impaired.

Using its Innovation System, Fábrica Carioca de Catalisadores mobilized its team of Product Development Engineers and the R & D centers of Petrobras and Albemarle to design a new catalyst that produces greater amounts of high-valued products, regardless of feed quality.
The result was UPGRADER, the most recent innovation of Fábrica Carioca de Catalisadores.
UPGRADER presents the highest accessibility levels in the industry. It was designed for units that demand catalysts with even better coke selectivity characteristics by adjusting their resistance to metals.

Commercial evaluations in several refineries have proven that UPGRADER superior accessibility was reflected in high bottoms conversion, less over-craking and incomparable LCO yield. Due to less hydrogen transfer reactions, more olefinic LPG and higher octane naphtha were obtained. The improvement of coke selectivity allowed refiners the flexibility to increase feed flow rate or to process more resid, maximizing FCCU profitability.

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