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Special Report: Catalysts supporting sustainable fuel production

by Martin Menachery on Jun 14, 2017


Martin Menachery, editor, Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.
Martin Menachery, editor, Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.

Honeywell UOP and King Fahd University for Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) are driving economic diversification in Saudi Arabia with a pioneering petrochemical project.

In February 2011, UOP and KFUPM in Saudi Arabia signed a five-year agreement, which allowed KFUPM professors and researchers to collaborate with UOP scientists on catalyst development and processes for aromatics production. The new catalytic processes developed jointly by Honeywell UOP and KFUPM allow refiners and aromatics producers to efficiently use a wider range of available feedstocks.

Honeywell UOP is the Knowledge Partner for this Special Report on catalysts. Through its column, Honeywell UOP delves on the development of breakthrough catalysts over the years, from the first application of a catalyst in petroleum refining in 1933 to the legacy of Vladimir Ipatieff, whose catalytic polymerisation formed the basis for much of the basic catalytic science in petroleum refining over the ensuing decades. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to Honeywell UOP for becoming our Knowledge Partner and sharing valuable information on future of refinery catalysts.

According to the latest research reports, increasing oil and gas exploration activities are expected to increase demand for catalysts in the Middle East, while Asia-Pacific is emerging as the major market for polymerisation catalysts due to rapid industrialisation and expansion of refining and polymer manufacturing companies in the region. Polymer manufacturing is the third-largest end-user industry for refinery catalysts.

The catalyst business witnessed many innovative products being unveiled in recent times. For example, PolyMax 850, a high-performance, sustainable catalyst for petroleum refineries, launched recently by Clariant. PolyMax 850 – a phosphoric acid catalyst – enhances polygasoline, nonene and tetramer yields at lower operating temperatures, thereby reducing costs and improving productivity. This catalyst allows operation at significantly lower temperatures, thereby saving considerable energy. Apart from improving quality and cost efficiency, PolyMax 850 also supports sustainable fuel production.

The role of catalysts in the downstream industry is mainly to help refiners achieve fuel standards, enhance operational efficiency, upgrade conversion and selectivity, and progress the green trends. The refining industry aims at developing cost-effective technologies, which support compliance with industry specifications. It is also important to note that elements originating from the economic, environmental, legislative and social fronts drive the downstream industry to produce catalysts that ensure higher quality fuels.


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