July 2016

Special Report: Refinery of the Future

Catalytic advances make chemical upgrading a reality for heavy sour feeds

For many years, industry researchers have worked to find more cost-effective alternative processes than traditional hydroprocessing for upgrading petroleum fractions.

For many years, industry researchers have worked to find more cost-effective alternative processes than traditional hydroprocessing for upgrading petroleum fractions.1 Traditional upgrading technologies rely on reduction-based chemistries and are energy- and hydrogen-intensive. Chemical upgrading through the use of hetero-atom oxidation as an intermediate step has long been an industry goal. This oxidation pathway is commonly called oxydesulfurization (ODS). A survey of US patent office records shows that many of the oil industry’s most sophisticated organizations have attempted to find this alternative pathway to upgrading. Fig. 1. Sulfur in hydrocarbon mo

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