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New catalysts to improve hydrocarbon cracking effectiveness

Heavy oil fractions need to be cracked using catalysts with large pore sizes. Current commercial catalysts limit the access of large and bulky molecules to the catalytic active sites and therefore the effectiveness of cracking. Novel materials have been developed that contain extra large pore sizes and so are able to convert the heavy oil fractions more effectively. The result is better utilization of available resources after further optimization of the catalysts.

The materials synthesised were of the types MCM-41, silica containing VPI-5, ETAS-10 and Cloverite. The new extra-large pore mesoporous MCM-41 materials were a great improvement compared with the restricted pore size of zeolite Y. Solid-state characterizations showed that the new materials are composed of hexagonal arrangements of 1-dimensional pore systems with aluminosilicate walls and that they have a specific surface of up to 1000 m{2} g{-1}. A pore size of 2.5 nm was obtained for MCM-41 by adsorption tests, between 3 and 4 times larger than the current zeolite catalysts. In the so-called H form, MCM-41 acts as a solid-state acid. Because of its high thermal stability it can be used as a catalyst component in acid catalysed cracking reactions even at temperatures above 500 C. Catalytic microactivity tests showed that the new materials could crack bulky and very branched molecules, whereas the conventional fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts were unable to do so. The research results from this project could have a direct influence on the development of world-wide petrochemical refining processes. The project was strongly oriented towards the industrial application and succeeded in producing promising components for use in cracking catalysts. If successfully developed, these novel compounds could substantially improve petrochemical refining economics as well as contributing to optimizing oil utilization.

Reported by

Technische Universität Dresden
01062 Dresden