Global refining catalyst market driven by growth in hydroprocessing

Refining catalysts are experiencing strong growth this year, driven by demand for cleaner fuels, increasing use of heavier and dirtier feedstocks and major additions to refining capacity, according to a new report from US-based market research firm ReportsnReports.

Refining catalysts are moving to a more balanced market, the report says, shifting from one characterized by oversupply to a more stable sales effort.

The market picture for hydroprocessing catalyst supply and demand continues to evolve, the report says.

Hydroprocessing catalysts are the fastest-growing refinery catalysts, according to ReportsnReports. These catalysts help control and improve the operational efficiencies in the petroleum refining process.

Hydroprocessing catalysts are also used to create cleaner fuels, especially ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD).

Demand is lower for the more mature FCC catalysts than the hydroprocessing catalysts, allowing hydroprocessing catalysts to pass FCC catalysts and become the largest segment of the refinery catalyst market.

Low sulfur regulations in developed countries, implementation of some sulfur restrictions in China, India and Mexico, and other countries, is a significant market driving force, the study says.

Increasingly higher sulfur-content is present in oil coming out of the ground.

The rapidly increasing demand for gasoline and diesel has increased the requirement for raw materials for their production. The limited supply of raw materials increases the overall cost of production.

Reforming catalysts are fundamental to the modernization of product reformate, the report notes. They contain hydrocarbons with more complex molecular shapes having higher octane values than the hydrocarbons in the naphtha feedstock.

The process separates hydrogen atoms from the hydrocarbon molecules and produces significant amounts of byproduct hydrogen gas.

Hydrogen is useful for fuel cells, meaning that refineries could become environments for generating electricity.

Hydrogen is also useful in stationary fuel cells that are evolving a market for providing local power in campus environments.

Local power generation is becoming more valued as people realize that the cost of conditioning electricity for the grid is an unnecessary expense in local power environments, the report says.

As such, the use of hydrogen and the manufacture of hydrogen in refinery environments could become significant aspect of markets.

"These factors have attracted manufacturers to refinery catalysts, as these help extract relatively more diesel and gasoline from the same amount of crude oil,” said Susan Eustis, the lead author of the study.

“The refinery catalyst market is thus boosted by the fact that the efficient use of catalysts can help the manufacturers' better address the increasing energy demand,” she continued.

“Hydroprocessing faces significant challenges as crude feeds get heavier; there will be more sulfur and nitrogen to extract; more aromatics to saturate; more metals to remove; and more coke to deal with. Refiners have ageing facilities, which may not be designed and optimized to meet new challenges."

As more capital investment is needed, costs for refining fossil fuels will rise, stimulating markets for renewable energy and making them more competitive with fossil fuels, the study says.

Going forward, hydrotreating catalysts will continue to achieve the best growth in the petroleum refining market, aided by the increasingly sour nature of the crude petroleum supplied to the market, according to the report.

Efforts by Brazil, China, India and Russia to improve their air quality by the introduction of low-sulfur fuels are ongoing.

Hydrocracking and fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts should see advances, particularly in Asia as the growing motor vehicle fleet stimulates new gasoline and diesel fuel demand.

For details on the full ReportsnReports study, click here.

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