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FLUID CATALYTIC CRACKING, AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT & CONSERVATION
Publication date:4Q 2015
Fluid Catalytic Cracking and Energy Conservation and Management
Fluid Catalytic Cracking
The global oil market rout that began in mid-2014 because of the ongoing supply glut has driven oil prices to a 12-year low as of the first week of 2016. The market recovery is nowhere in sight as the present tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the execution of a Shia cleric in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia has dampened a hope for an oil production cut among OPEC members anytime soon. Meanwhile, non-OPEC producers such as Canada, Mexico, Russia, and the US are keeping outputs high despite falling oil prices On the demand side, weakening Chinese economy and a slow economic revival in Europe and Japan are expected to suppress oil prices for a foreseeable future. Therefore, the current crude oversupply and low prices, which may last for another 2-3 years or even longer, have created a lot of opportunities for refiners who can increase throughput of processing inexpensive feedstocks into transportation fuels in demand. Lower retail prices due to falling oil prices have benefitted consumers and rising fuel consumption, particularly gasoline, has been reported in many parts of the world. It is good news for gasoline-producing fluid catalytic cracking units (FCCUs). The surge in gasoline demand is a "sea-change" for the FCC industry.
Many technology developers and also refiners have held a strong belief over the past decade that FCCUs must produce more light cycle oil (LCO) to meet the global "dieselization" trend. Well, the dieselization trend is not expected to happen soon for several reasons. First, advancement of hybrid motor engines has increased fuel efficiency that matches that of diesel vehicles. Second, the hybrid vehicles emit lower CO2 in addition to no exhaustion of soot and particulate matter as associated with diesel engines. Third, Volkswagen's diesel emission scandal unfolded in Sept. 2015 that the car company used a so-called "defeat devise" software to cheat CO2 and NOX emission inspections for many years has tarnished the image of "clean diesel" and lost consumer confidence in diesel vehicles. Fourth, cities like Birmingham, UK, New Delhi, India and Paris, France are looking to severely limit or outright ban the use of diesel vehicles in their city limits in the coming years due to health and pollution concerns. Finally, increasing sales of gasoline-driven cars instead of the diesel version in China, India, and the US have so far made a convincing case that gasoline is the most preferred transportation fuel. If so, the unit should lean toward making gasoline and also C3-C4 olefins for alkylate, petrochemical and polymer productions. In this case, where are the outlets for LCO as current technology developments have been focusing on maximizing LCO yield? On the other hand, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules that limit high-sulfur fuel oil used in many parts of the world may provide market opportunity for diesel fuels and LCO. Is FCCU is at another crossroads in its development path since the first unit was installed in 1942?
Because of its flexibility, the FCCU is known to perform "miracles" for refiners in meeting challenges of increasingly stringent fuel standards, changing market conditions, and competing technologies. These challenges that are consistently presented to refiners are what instigate evolution in FCCU design and operation. Changes in hardware, control schemes, catalysts, maintenance strategies, etc. are all driven by current or anticipated changes to the refining landscape.
Additionally, the fluid catalytic cracking section features the latest trends and technology offerings, including:
Energy Conservation and Management
In an environment where the oil market sees constant rises and drops in crude oil prices and refined product demand, one constant that remains is the need to reduce operating costs throughout a refinery. Energy efficiency remains one of the key factors in which refineries can remain competitive in the downstream sector, and identifying and absolving the major sources of inefficiency will not only reduce operating costs, but cut down on CO2 emissions as well. In this Review, we focus on the steps a refinery can take towards improving the efficiency of heat exchangers through new technologies and fouling reduction, and improved utilization of heat through waste heat recovery and process integration. Both methods can help in the reduced duty of boilers and, most importantly, furnaces, which account for over 34% of refinery emissions.
One of the major steps a refinery can make is the replacement of shell-and-tube heat exchangers with spiral or plate heat exchangers. The implementation of either type is ensured to improve efficiency and reduce the likelihood of fouling, leading to significant savings in maintenance costs. Regardless of the exchangers in use, improvements to a maintenance program through process monitoring and new cleaning methods should be explored as a way to proactively ensure optimal operation of a plant's assets. This includes predictive maintenance programs that keep tabs on key performance indicators, cleaning chemicals and additives for online cleaning, and offline cleaning for safe and thorough removal of foulants.
Additionally, the energy management & conservation section features the latest trends and technology offerings, including:
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Keywords: primary conversion process, gasoline, diesel, LCO, propylene, butylenes, light olefins, LPG, fluidized bed, riser, ULSD, ULSG, ultra-low sulfur, rare earth, dieselization, SOX, NOX, slurry oil, fuel oil, fuel specifications, gasoline benzene, reformulated gasoline, RFG, CO, particulate matter, mild FCC, dual-riser, multiple riser, ZSM-5, additives, zeolite, matrix, co-catalysts, RFCC, biofeeds, catalyst regenerator, power recovery, advanced process control, opportunity crudes, energy efficiency, electrostatic precipitators, ESP, flue gas scrubber, tight oil, residual feeds, energy efficiency