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Novel Potential Catalysts for Oil-to-Chemicals Conversion

A recently issued technical investigation commissioned by the members of the Catalytic Advances Program (CAP) details recent advancements in catalysis for direct oil-to-chemicals conversion

See PPT Deck here (as PDF) | See Report TofC here (as PDF)

This TCGR report provides an analysis of the need for chemicals derived from direct oil-to-chemicals (o-t-c) processes. Chemical business development will largely overcome fuel development in the coming years, requiring sustainable approaches. Refining complexes dedicated to chemicals with minimum fuel production are envisioned to cover the increasing gap while fuel demand is stagnant or even declining. Bypassing the fuel refinery to produce chemicals directly from crude oil allows feedstock freedom and lowers production costs. A large panel of options are being explored, from modified steam crackers able to deal with the heavy fraction of crude oil to large, complex refining schemes including multiple units. Catalysts play an essential role in the refinery. Most of the refinery streams after distillation are pretreated by hydroprocessing. In a complex refinery scheme for chemicals, these units may work under similar conditions to a fuels-oriented refinery. The use of current processes and catalysts with the proper refining scheme is able to reach 40-50 wt% of chemicals from a crude oil with little adaptation. More ambitious processing schemes with a reduced number of units may reach values above 70%, but changes in feedstock properties may need adapted catalyst formulations.

During the last century, crude oil has been a primary source of energy, and oil refining plays a key role in the worldwide energy system. Petroleum derived transportation fuels such as gasoline, diesel, and fuel oil currently accounts for approximately a 50% share of the products manufactured from refineries (World Oil Outlook 2040, 2019). Nowadays, the global oil consumption is approximately 100 Mb/d and it is forecasted that an additional demand growth of around 1 Mb/d per year will occur during the next decade.  

Figure 1: Source of crude oil demand growth. Source: Wood Mackenzie editorial, 2019

In stark contrast (per Figure 1), the global petrochemical market is in steady expansion with a sustained growth of about 4% per year, and all the trends are indicating that this tendency will persist over the mid- to long-term (World Oil Outlook 2040, 2019). A multitude of reasons, such as the worldwide population growth and increasing income and wealth, explains this intensive demand for petrochemicals growth. Indeed, petrochemical derived products are integral to modern societies and, thus, they are found across a vast range of modern manufactured goods.

Demand for plastics, for instance, has nearly doubled since 2000 and it is estimated that this will outpace that of all other bulk materials such as steel, cement or aluminium. When comparing the current plastics consumption of advanced economies, such as the United States and Europe to those of developing economies such as India and Indonesia, it is interesting to note that developed countries use around 20 times more plastic on a per capita basis. Thus, although the substantial efforts in recycling and important restrictive policies to limit the single-use plastics in developed countries, it is expected that the sharp increase of the shares of plastic consumption in developing countries will sustain an extremely dynamic plastics demand, at least up to 2050. To meet this high demand for petrochemicals, on-purpose technologies such as propane dehydrogenation (PDH), olefin metathesis (MTS), methanol-to-olefins (MTO), oxidative coupling of methane (OCM) or Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis (FT) have attracted the attention of the researchers and industrial scientists, leading to the commissioning of several industrial plants over the last decade.

TCGR’s deep analysis and timely report addresses real-world, industrially-focused challenges…

As in other CAP reports, the focus is on the more recent developments, with the background analysis limited to necessary aspects to understand the topic, and with the discussion and analysis oriented to highlight trends, novel aspects and prospects as well as current gaps. This report thus provides a window to the future of this important area of catalysis, which will certainly be a key technology in the next decades.

The PPT Deck as well as a PDF containing the completed report’s TofC, List of Figures and Tables are available for download below:

See PPT Deck here (as PDF) | See Report TofC here (as PDF)

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TCGR works with its members to identify and foster competitive advantage and opportunity. This value-added relationship, along with active participation by the membership, leads to improved (or unique) external R&D and commercial investment possibilities. Members maintain strong relationships with contact points (“liaisons”) and benefit from preferred communications between themselves.

In addition to the reports, CAP membership deliverables include weekly monitoring communications via email (CAP Communications) and scheduled meetings of members (either in-person or via webinar). Access to deliverables is exclusive to members.

Depending on their membership choice, CAP members may receive all three or just two annual technical reports as well as the weekly newsletter known as CAP Communications. This newsletter provides the latest updates on technical breakthroughs, commercial advancements, noteworthy conference proceedings, and exclusive development opportunities. Membership also includes attendance at a CAP Annual Meeting, with dates, location, and topics selected by the membership.

More information about this report and other services of CAP can be seen at https://www.catalystgrp.com/tcg-resources/member-programs/catalytic-advances-program/.
Call +1-215-628-4447 or e-mail Chris Dziedziak at cdziedziak@catalystgrp.com, and we’ll be happy to discuss these and other interesting membership benefits.

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The Catalyst Group Resources (TCGR), a member of The Catalyst Group, is dedicated to monitoring and analyzing technical and commercial developments in catalysis as they apply to the global refining, petrochemical, fine/specialty chemical, pharmaceutical, polymer/elastomer and environmental industries.