22/03/2022

What ECTC can do in hydroprocessing?

22/03/2022
What ECTC can do in hydroprocessing?
ECT Center has all the necessary competencies and equipment for pilot testing of hydrogenation processes in the production of base oils and also to perform any tests related to hydroprocessing on heavy hydrocarbon. Requirements for lubricants, engine oils, and, consequently, for base oils are constantly increasing. In the production lifecycle of base oils hydrogenation processes have undeniable advantages over traditional ones (selective purification, solvents): a higher yield of the final product , less waste.
On our pilot site we have a hydrogenation unit, where production processes can be tested using specific raw materials, pilot batches of the product can be obtained. It can also be used for catalytic tests and for piloting of hydro-technologies. ECTC is ready to act as an independent center for testing hydroprocesses on oils and heavy hydrocarbons. We have unique competencies in this area and wide practical experience.
Market of base and commercial oils
Despite the pandemic, the base oil market has shown positive dynamics in recent years. The motor oil market also experienced impressive growth. Industrial organizations in the USA, Europe, Japan regularly introduce new standards and increase the requirements for automotive oils in terms of harmful emissions, energy saving and additional engine protection. That is, they update the specifications for ash content, the content of salts, sulfur, paraffin and metals in the product.

Base mineral oils are usually obtained directly from oil refineries. These are oil categories I-III according to the classification of the American Petroleum Institute (API). The main difference between them is in the degree of purification and methods of processing of raw materials, which affect the chemical composition (presence of impurities) and physical properties (viscosity).

Commercial synthetic oils (lubricants) are produced using base oil as a feedstock material by compounding and mixing with functional additives. The quality of the final product depends on many parameters: the quality of the feedstock, the base oil, and the technology of its production. Hydrogenation processes play a key role in this.
Hydrogenation Processes for Refining of Petroleum Oils
Base oil oils are a mixture of C20-C60 hydrocarbons with average molecular weight of 300-750 g/mol. The main components of oils can be divided into three groups - preferred, acceptable and undesirable:

  1. isoalkanes, monocyclic naphthenes;
  2. polycyclic naphthenes, monocyclic arenes;
  3. polycyclic arenes and areno-naphthenes, n-alkanes, heteroatomic compounds (resins and asphaltenes).

Hydrogenation processing of oil raw materials is used to remove undesirable impurities (heteroatomic polycyclic and resinous substances) and increase the proportion of preferred high-index low-freezing hydrocarbons. These include hydrotreating, hydrofinishing, hydrocracking, hydroisomerization, hydrodewaxing and hydrogenation processes.

Advantages of hydrogenation processes over traditional ones are following: high yield of oil components, which is due to the conversion of undesirable components (n-paraffins, arenes, etc.) into high-index isoparaffin/naphthenic ones, and a low proportion of waste and by-products.
1
Hydrotreating (hydropurification)
The most common hydrogenation process. The main part of hydrogenation processes uses catalysts that are sensitive to poisoning by heteroatomic compounds. Therefore, the process of preliminary hydrotreatment of oil raw materials becomes mandatory. It provides removal of heteroatomic polycyclic and resinous substances.

The raw materials can be distillate and residual oil fractions, products and intermediates of selective purification processes. The properties of the oil raw material as a result of hydrotreatment change insignificantly.

Additional hydrotreatment is a more refining process, it differs from hydrotreatment in a milder regime and is intended for final post treatment of components of oil fractions. It acts as an alternative to selective purification, contact / sulfuric acid post-treatment of oil raw materials, ensures the removal of heteroatomic polycyclic and resinous substances, thereby increasing thermal stability, reducing coking and acidity, and improving color.

2
Hydrocracking
This is one of the main processes for production of components for modern state-of-art and high-quality base oils. Here, hydrocarbon cracking (breaking of the C-C bond) occurs, followed by hydrogenation of unsaturated compounds, hydrogenation of aromatic hydrocarbons and partial isomerization.

Raw materials for hydrocracking are usually residual oil fractions (heavy vacuum distillates, deasphalted oil and their mixtures). As a result, there is a significant change in the properties of the raw oil: an increase in the viscosity index up to 110-130, a decrease in the pour point by 20-30 °C, a decrease in the content of aromatic hydrocarbons to less than 3%.

3
Hydroisomerization
This process is similar in practical design to hydrocracking and is intended for the transformation of highly paraffinic oil feedstock into low-hardening components of base oils. Since paraffins initially predominate in the feedstock and the proportion of cyclic hydrocarbons is low, paraffin isomerization makes the greatest contribution. Hydroisomerization process results in drastic changes in the properties of raw oil: an increase in the viscosity index up to 140-160, a decrease in the pour point to minus 55 - minus 20 °C, a decrease in the content of aromatic hydrocarbons to less than 3%.

4
Hydrodewaxing
The purpose of hydrodewaxing process is to obtain low-pour base oil components, the same as in the hydroisomerization process. But in this case, paraffins are not isomerized, but cracked to produce lighter hydrocarbons.

The feedstock materials are hydrotreated oil components with an insufficiently low pour point. Changes in the properties of oil raw materials are as follows: a decrease in the viscosity index by 7-8 units, a decrease in the pour point below -50 °C.

Since the decrease in the viscosity index is usually negative, there is another type of hydrodewaxing process - the hydroisodewaxing process, in which, in addition to cracking, paraffin isomerization proceeds, making possible to keep or increase the viscosity index of final products.

5
Hydrogenation
Hydrogenation of raw oil is used to obtain special products with an ultra-low content of aromatic hydrocarbons, such as adjuvant oils for biological products, working fluids for electroerosive equipment, etc.

Often, the industry uses a combination of several hydrogenation processes, and their integration with traditional selective purification processes. This is due both to the variety of properties of feedstock oil, and to the gradual evolutionary transition from traditional processes to hydrogenation ones.
Typical technological schemes for the production of base oils.
Technological chains I-III demonstrate the evolutionary transition from traditional processes to hydrogenation. In chain I, the traditional scheme for the production of low pour point oils is supplemented by a hydrodewaxing process.

In chain II, the hydrodewaxing process replaces traditional solvent dewaxing, and in chain III, the replacement of solvent dewaxing with a combination of hydrotreating and hydroisodewaxing processes makes possible to obtain higher quality base oils of the third group.

At the same time, when designing a new production, without the use of traditional processes, the analogue of the technological chain III will be the chain IV.

Hydrogenation processes for the processing of raw oil can eventually replace traditional processes in the production of the most large-scale products. The advantage of hydrogenation processes is that they are almost completely wasteless and have high yields of target oil components. The disadvantages include high capital investments and known difficulties with the production and use of hydrogen.
What we can in this field
ECTC has all the necessary resources to solve the problems of introducing hydro processes in industry: qualified specialists, equipment (a pilot setup in addition to existing one can be assembled in a short time), competencies and accumulated practical experience.
We are ready to provide:

  • comparative tests of hydroprocessing catalysts (at temperatures up to 450 °C and pressure up to 160 atm);
  • testing of catalytic systems before loading into an industrial reactor;
  • testing the service life of catalysts up to 10,000 hours (experimental runs);
  • production of pilot batches of hydrogenation products up to 8-10 tons.

We will answer all your questions. Contact us, we provide a wide range of engineering services.
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