Hydrocracking Catalyst and Processing Developments
Refiners currently find themselves in a challenging environment as regulations continue to increase demands on refining processes, while high-quality refining feedstocks become scarcer and consequently more expensive. This combination of increasing raw material cost (usually of lesser quality), coupled with more stringent finished product quality requirements, emphasizes the need to utilize the latest technology to remain competitive and maintain safe unit operation.
Additionally, recent world events have resulted in reduced capex and thereby increased focus on hydrocracking catalyst and know-how solutions. In this effort, Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) is involved in operating dozens of pilot plants and micro units. There are also annual programmes in progress for each of the following proprietary hydroprocessing technologies: Resid Hydrotreating, LC-FINING, ISOTREATING, Isocracking, ISODEWAXING and ISOFINISHING. These programmes focus on catalyst improvements and process improvements, along with optimizing catalyst offerings for existing customers.
Chevron invented the modern hydrocracking process in 1959. The first licensed unit started up in 1962, followed by the first commercialised Isocracking proc- ess within Chevron’s own system at the Pascagoula, Mississippi, refinery in 1963. Three years later, a two-stage Isocracking plant was commissioned at its Richmond, California, refinery to upgrade vacuum gas oil (VGO) to naphtha and jet fuel. At the same time, a single-stage once-through (SSOT) unit was also commissioned at the Richmond refinery to hydrocrack deasphalted oil (DAO). These early hydrocracking projects added ten high-pressure reactors to the Richmond refinery. Isocracking technology was further applied by Chevron with a second unit at its Pascagoula refinery in 1969, and one at its El Segundo, California, refinery in 1971.