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Worldwide Refinery Processing Review (Quarterly Issues)

HYDROCRACKING AND ALKYLATION
Publication date:3Q 2008
Item#: B20803

This issue of the Review covers recent hydrocracking and alkylation technology advances, technical challenges, and R&D work. Additionally, Section 4, Latest Refining Technology Developments & Licensing, provides updates on various refining technologies.

Hydrocracking

The process helps refiners meet a wide variety of challenges, including rising fuel demand, strict transportation fuel specifications, varying refinery feedstocks, and environmental regulations regarding site emissions. The process is utilized either by itself or in combination with FCC to upgrade a variety of feeds, including VGO from conventional and heavy crudes, DAO, coker distillates, LCO, residual fuel oil, and atmospheric residues. Furthermore, HC permits the refinery to increase the quality and output of fuel products as well as to adjust the balance of the product slate between distillates and gasoline. By virtue of its flexibility, hydrocracking technology offers an essential process in the modern refinery with regard to potential feed and products slate as well as the product quality.

Global hydrocracking capacity jumped up by 5.75% (almost 269.7K b/cd) from Jan. 2007 to Jan. 2008 and now sits at over 4.95MM b/d. This is a significant increase compared to the 0.96% growth observed over 2006. This trend is expected to continue, and according to Axens, the globe will witness a considerable hydrocracking capacity expansion surge with an addition of more than 4.4MM b/d from 2005 to 2020. According to data in Section 2.6.1, Recent Construction Activity, over 3.1MM b/d of this capacity expansion is already in the planning, engineering, or construction phase.

More detailed information regarding hydrocracking in terms of supply and demand, capacity additions, and technology competition/development are discussed as part of the Market/Technology Trends and Opportunities section in this Review. This issue features new catalysts, processes and topics including:

Alkylation

This process produces a high-octane gasoline blending component (alkylate) with a low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP), minimal sulfur, and no aromatics or olefins. Demand for alkylate as a clean gasoline blendstock has risen in recent years, due to several factors. In addition to meeting tightening fuel specification for sulfur and aromatics, alkylate can provide a high-octane blendstock to the gasoline pool with a very low RVP, in the absence of MTBE or other alternatives. This need will be further exaggerated as increasing quantities of ethanol (high-RVP) are added into the gasoline pool. In the US, alkylate is responsible for about 11-13% of the total gasoline pool, depending on regional demand and seasonal factors.

Although currently the majority of alkylation capacity (85%) is in North America, the present global situation may lead to increasing demand for alkylate in both the US and Asia. Gasoline demand is continually rising in these regions, and as octane levels decrease, an increasing demand for high-octane alkylate is expected. From Jan. 2007 to Jan. 2008 worldwide alkylation capacity rose only 0.52%, primarily on the strength of capacity increases in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions. These issues, as well as the effect that current state-of-the-art and emerging technologies will have on the alkylation market are discussed in the Market/Technology Trends and Opportunities section. The technology sections features new processes and topics including:

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