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HS-FCC for propylene: concept to

commercial operation
A FCC process provides a high light olefin yield from a wide variety of feedstocks
utilising high severity reaction conditions and a novel down flow reaction system
Nicolas Lambert Axens IWAO Ogasawara JX Nippon Oil & Energy
Ibrahim Abba Saudi Aramco Halim Redhwi King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals
Chris Santner Technip Stone & Webster Process Technology

he fluid catalytic cracking


(FCC) process has undergone
a long evolution of hardware
and catalyst changes, from bed
cracking with amorphous catalyst
to short contact time riser cracking
with sophisticated zeolite catalyst
systems. Improvements to the
process have provided a wide
degree of flexibility to selectively
target the production of distillates
or gasoline, or propylene from
VGO and residue feeds, thereby
making FCC the most widely used
conversion process.
More generally, the objective of
the process is to produce high
valued products, and increasingly
this includes fuels and petrochemicals, such as light olefins and
aromatics. At present, over 30% of
the worldwide propylene supply
comes from FCC-related processes
(FCC, RFCC, DCC). Fluctuating
product demand and price have
caused most new project developers to demand product flexibility
for long-term profitability and
process integration with petrochemical facilities for added
synergy and cost savings.
In order to respond to these
market demands, a new high severity down flow FCC (HS-FCC)
process has been developed by an
alliance of Saudi Aramco, JX
Nippon Oil & Energy (JX) and King
Fahd University of Petroleum and
Minerals (KFUPM), culminating in
a 3000 b/d semi-commercial unit in
operation since 2011 in Japan (see
Figure 1). The process provides a
high light olefin yield from a wide
variety of feedstocks utilising high
severity reaction conditions, a novel
down flow reaction system and

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axens.indd 1

Figure 1 HS-FCC semi-commercial unit

proprietary catalyst. HS-FCC is


now available for licence from a
Global Alliance by Axens and
Technip Stone & Webster Process
Technology.

Features of HS-FCC

FCC utilises acidic zeolite catalysts


to crack heavy hydrocarbons into
lighter fuels such as gasoline and
distillate and, under more severe
conditions, into lighter olefins such
as propylene and butylene (and, to
a lesser extent, ethylene). Complex
secondary reactions that can

degrade the primary products to


less valuable components should be
limited to retain product selectivity
and refinery profitability. For
HS-FCC, the objective is to not only
improve the selectivity for normal
fuels production, but also to
maximise the potential of light
olefin and petrochemical production at high severity. HS-FCC
provides a total system to maximise
product selectivity and, in particular, propylene yield. Three key
elements are required to attain this
objective:

PTQ Q1 2014 39

12/12/2013 10:58

Typical operating conditions for FCC


and HS-FCC

Gasoline yield, mass%

60


FCC
Reaction T,C
500-550
Contact time, s
25
Catalyst/oil, wt/wt
5-8
Reactor flow
Up flow

50
40
30

Table 2

20
10
75

80

85

90

Conversion, mass%
B

Propylene yield, mass%

25
20
15
10
5
0
75

80

85

90

Conversion, mass%
HS-FCC catalyst
Commercial FCC catalyst (octane catalyst)
Commercial FCC catalyst (activity catalyst)
+10% ZSM-5 additive
+10% ZSM-5 additive
+10% ZSM-5 additive

Figure 2 Proprietary catalyst boosts ZSM-5 effectiveness for more propylene


Reaction conditions and advantages of HS-FCC in petrochemicals production

Advantages
Challenges
High temperature High conversion and olefins selectivity Increased thermal cracking, product

degradation
Short contact time Reduced secondary reactions and

thermal cracking

Reduced conversion, rapid mixing


and separation required

High catalyst/oil
Increased catalytic cracking

Very high catalyst circulation,


uniform flow, mixing and separation

Table 1


Highly selective catalyst and
additive system
Optimised reaction conditions
Down flow, short contact time
reaction system with rapid catalyst
separation.
The balance of these elements

40 PTQ Q1 2014

axens.indd 2

HS-FCC
550650
0.51.0
2040
Down flow

and realisation at commercial scale


is the key to success.

Catalyst system

The catalytic cracking reaction


pathways are complex, with the
primary formation of olefinic

products and parallel bi-molecular


hydrogen transfer reactions leading
to paraffin formation and aromisation of naphthenes. Managing the
acid site density of the catalyst can
suppress hydrogen transfer and
isomerisation reactions to maximise
olefins production. When coupled
with ZSM-5 pentasil cracking catalyst additives, the increased olefins
in the gasoline cut can be selectively cracked to further increase
the propylene yield.
The HS-FCC catalyst uses a high
USY zeolite content system with
very low acid site density, formulated to minimise hydrogen transfer
reactions for high olefin selectivity,
and low coke and gas selectivity.
This catalyst has been shown to be
more
effective
for
propylene
production when coupled with
ZSM-5 additives (see Figure 2).
Commercial catalysts and HS-FCC
catalyst exhibited a similar trend in
gasoline and propylene yield as a
function of conversion (severity),
but the customised HS-FCC catalyst
was much more effective in feeding the ZSM-5 additive with more
olefins, and more accessible linear
olefins, to produce more propylene.1

Optimised reaction conditions

When targeting maximum petrochemicals production, HS-FCC


operates under more severe conditions than conventional FCC. The
main reaction conditions applied
and the advantages and challenges
presented are shown in Table 1.
High
reaction
temperature
coupled with short contact time
increases the primary reactions
towards olefins, while limiting the
unwanted secondary reactions of
hydrogen transfer and thermal
degradation. A consequence of the
increased severity and short time is
the need for higher catalyst circulation (catalyst-to-oil mass ratio, or

www.eptq.com

11/12/2013 12:17

Gasoline, mass%

Gasoline, mass%

scan points representing one projects; revamps take place on


as-built pipe.
Evidently, that is only plants that may
contain hazardous
FCC
Feed + catalyst
HS-FCC
up flow
one clash,
butriser
some systems
will
chemicals,
temperatures
or
down flow
register it as thousands of clashes, pressures. Evidently, these considmaking it difcult to identify the erations imply the need for
real clash and to resolve it well-specied,
specialist
plant
Back
Plug
effectively.
design
software.
mixing
flow
Ensuring that an
Over
Low accurately
cracking
conversion
process
designed pipe spool
actually ts Business
correctly on site requires accurate The introduction to this article
fabrication. Leading 3D design referred to the need for efcient
Feed such
+ catalyst
solutions
as our PDMS or business processes. That is hardly a
AVEVA Everything3D can not only great insight, but, in the engineerReactor residence time
generate fully detailed fabrication ing industry, business processes are
drawings automatically, they can inextricably linked with the engiFigure
flow vs down
flow residence time profiles
neering and design technologies
also 3 Up
perform
manufacturability
checks at the design stage to help that generate project information.
maximise
fabrication quality. It is Best practice is therefore to select
A
60
also now possibleRiser
to scan a solutions that can share informacompleted fabrication
andflow
compare tion efciently and reliably. An
Down
it against the design model, to efcient revamp project workow
quickly verify
its accuracy and can thus be achieved using 3D
50
design technology that integrates
resolve any errors early.
Owner-operators
considering both with laser scan data sources
placing revamp projects should and with engineering data sources,
review a contractors
capabilities in so that engineering and design
40
these areas. The most capable typi- information can be kept synchrocally achieve less than 1% nised as the project progresses.
design-related rework costs, even From this, new design can automat30 projects. Our vision of ically generate accurate materials
on complex
75
80
requirements85 that feed 90into an
plant design70for lean construction
Conversion, wt%
goes further than this; our goal is to enterprise resource management
use B laser 60
scanning, among other (ERM) system.
Riser eliminate
Such engineering, design and
tools, to completely
Down
flow vision information management technolorework in 50
construction.
This
is discussed further in a business gies now exist and are in use on a
40
wide variety of new-build projects.
paper.2
Their ability to support efcient
30
Plan the installation
business processes becomes even
Scheduling the revamp installation more important on revamp projects
20
involves similar
considerations to with their need for on-time, rightplanning the original survey. EPCs rst-time, low-risk installation.
10
and owner-operators
must collaborate
closely
to
achieve
a
0
References
well-executed0 installation.10Here, the 20
30
40
1 Lighting the Way,
www.aveva.com/
power of 3D design can
add
C2-C4 olefins, mass%
publications
considerable value.
2 Plant Design for Lean Construction:
Reverse
engineering
objects
that
Figure 4 Selectivity benefits of a down flow reaction system4
Innovation for a new era in plant design, www.
are to be removed enables the creaaveva.com/publications
tion to of
accurate
demolition
C/O)
provide
the required
heat up flow FCC riser reactor system,
andand
thesufficient
determination
todrawings
the reactor
catalystof where the catalyst required for the
weight
and
centre
of
gravity,
which reaction is lifted up the reactor pipe
activity to achieve high conversion
Gary Farrow is Vice President 3D Data Capture
informs
the
correct
use
of
handling
at short contact time. The range of or riser by the vaporised and
with AVEVA in Cambridge, UK. He works with
equipment.
Model
animation
operating conditions for a conven- cracked
hydrocarbon feed. In up
customers in the use of 3D data capture
enablesFCCplanners
to evaluate
tional
and HS-FCC
are flow
fluid-solid
systems,
the solids
technology to increase
productivity
and to
proposed task
sequences
and to or catalyst are conveyed upwards
summarised
in Table
2.
advance the performance of AVEVAs LFM
check that, for example, items can against
force of engineer,
gravityhebyhasdrag
software.the
A mechanical
been
be moved
safely (DFR)
in thesystem
available forces
Down
flow reaction
the rising
involvedfrom
in 3D laser
scanninggases
from its(hydroinception
spacespecific
constraints.
Designconditions
review is carbons).
in the late 1990s,
undertaking
The
reaction
As initially
a result,
all projects
riser
arguably
even
more
important
for reactor
delivering data
and 3D models,
a huge
with very high C/O result in
systems
haveincluding
varying
scanning
project
for
Fluor/TCO
in
Kazakhstan.
revamps
than
for
new-build
certain challenges in a conventional degrees of catalyst back-mixing and

www.eptq.com
www.eptq.com

rev aveva.indd 3
axens.indd 3

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amacs@amacs.com

Revamps
2013 41
31
PTQ Q1 2014

10/09/2013 11:20
11/12/2013 20:06

100

Dry gas

90

Yield, mass%

80

LPG

Propylene
10.5%

70

Propylene
10.6%

60
50

Gasoline

40
20

LCO+

10
0

RON
99

RON
98

30

Coke

Bench scale (0.1 bpd)

Demo plant (30 bpd)

Figure 6 Bench scale vs demonstration scale results on low sulphur VGO at high severity
without ZSM-5

Figure 5 HS-FCC demonstration unit

reflux along the walls, particularly


in the feed injection or catalyst
pick-up zone at the bottom of the
riser reactor. At very high C/O,
significant back-mixing is unavoidable. This problem is overcome in a
down flow reactor (DFR), where
both the catalyst and feed flow
downwards together (see Figure 3).
Down flow fluid-solid reaction
systems have been of increasing
interest in recent years to achieve

plug flow reaction conditions, as


summarised by Cheng.2 When plug
flow conditions are achieved, more
selective primary cracking results
in greater selectivity. FCC pilot
work demonstrating the effects of
short contact time and down flow
have been reported by Del Poso3
and Abul-Hamayel4 (see Figures 4a
and 4b). The general trend is that of
greater gasoline selectivity at short
contact time down flow, with a
maximum yield achieved at a
higher conversion level. This effect
is seen in Figure 4a, where the

maximum gasoline yield is about 5


wt% higher in the down flow
system. When olefins are of interest, the more selective down flow
reaction environment can produce
substantially more light olefins
(C2-C4) at the same gasoline yield
compared to a conventional up
flow system (see Figure 4b).
Although the idea of a controlled
high severity, short contact time
down flow reaction has been
considered for some time, achieving
this successfully on a commercial
scale has been elusive. Extensive

Air outlet
Catalytic
circulation
hopper

Injector

Main air

Air outlet
Separator
Catalytic
circulation
hopper
Total height: 35m (115ft)

Catalyst circuit

Catalyst inventory: 20T


Max. catalyst circulation: 1.0T/min

Lift air

Figure 7 500 b/d equivalent cold flow testing to scale up and optimise the reaction system

42 PTQ Q1 2014

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11/12/2013 12:17

pilot work at the 0.1 b/d scale


demonstrated the principle, catalyst
system and operating conditions,
but did not address how rapid
mixing, reaction and efcient catalyst/gas separation can be achieved
at a large scale with a target residence time on the order of 0.5
seconds. On a commercial scale,
equipment design for very short
contact time with the mechanical
integrity to withstand high-velocity
catalyst circulation in a coking environment requires extensive research,
development and demonstration.

R&D history

The challenges of developing


this new technology required a
systematic research program undertaken by JX, KFUPM & Saudi
Aramco with the support of Japan
Cooperation Center, Petroleum
(JCCP). Early pilot work by both JX
and KFUPM in 1996-2000 demonstrated the benets of high severity
operation at controlled short
contact time in down ow mode.
Aramco became an active participant in the scale-up effort to design
a 30 b/d demonstration unit. JX
conducted large-scale, 30 b/d
equivalent, cold ow testing of the

Semi-commercial unit performance

Feed SG
Reactor T, C
Conv, w%
Light olefins, wt%
C2=
C3=
C4=
C5-220 gasoline, wt%
RON

VGO +
HC Btm
0.845
575
93.2
39
4
19
16
35
98.5

HDT
VGO
0.879
595
83.7
34
4
17
13
34
98.1

Propylene estimation, mass%

VGO+
AR
0.915
600
82.4
31
3
15
12
34
98.4

Table 3

catalyst circulation loop and


reactor-separator equipment to
validate the design of the demonstration unit.
The demonstration unit (see
Figure 5) was operated from 20032004 at the Aramco Ras Tanura
renery. Results from the demonstration unit validated the HS-FCC
concept, with good agreement
between 0.1 b/d pilot results and 30
b/d demonstration (see Figure 6).5, 6
A low sulphur VGO was cracked
at high severity in both the pilot
and demonstration units using only
the new HS-FCC catalyst without
ZSM-5 additive. A very high
propylene yield, over 10%, was

obtained along with a very high


octane gasoline.
Work immediately began on
scale-up to a commercial unit.
Important lessons were learned
concerning equipment design, and
larger-scale cold ow work was
undertaken by JX in Japan at the
500 b/d equivalent scale to optimise the feed injection zone and
separator design (see Figure 7).
This work was coupled with CFD
simulations to assist in larger-scale
equipment design.6

Semi-commercial unit

With the successful demonstration


of HS-FCC technology at the 30
Combined kinetic and
hydrodynamic model

Catalyst

27 lump kinetic model

VGO +
DAO
0.891
580
83.0
31
3
15
13
34
98.1

Feed

Feed

CFD
simulation

Assembly of a large
number of small reactors
Feed

30

Catalyst

Injectors

25
20
15
10
5
0

DFR
(down flow
reactor)

Feed A
Feed B
Feed C
Feed D
0

10

15

20

25

Experimental data,
mass%

30

Separator

Product

Product

Quench
Catalyst

Figure 8 Combined kinetic and hydrodynamic modelling assists design and scale-up

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PTQ Q1 2014

43

11/12/2013 12:17

Propylene yield, wt%

25
23

DCC

21

HS-FCC

19
17
15
13

HP-FCC

11
9

R2P
Heavy residuals

Light residuals

VGO

H1-H2 VGO

Figure 9 Family of high-propylene catalytic cracking processes


HS-FCC unit

Petrochemicals
Steam
cracker

C2

Mixed C3

VGO
resid.

HS-FCC

Mixed C3
LCN
Oligomers
recycle

Polymer grade
propylene

PRU
Oligomerisation
Polynaphtha

Paraffinic
raffinate

Aromatics
complex
Paramax

HCN

Polymer grade
ethylene

Bz + PX + OX

Fuels

Figure 10 Integrated refinery-petrochemical complex

b/d scale completed, it was time to


look forward to scaling up to a fullsized commercial unit and to plan
for future licensing of the technology. Several FCC licensors were
interviewed and evaluated before
Axens and Technip Stone &
Webster Process Technology were
selected to assist in the design of a
3000 b/d semi-commercial unit,
plan for a larger commercial unit,
and serve as exclusive licensor for
the HS-FCC technology, relying on
its extensive knowledge in FCC
and RFCC design.
A complete 3000 b/d HS-FCC
unit with main fractionator, gas
plant and ue gas treatment was
designed for the JX Mizushima
renery.
Chiyoda
Engineering
performed the detailed engineering
and construction of the plant (see
Figure 1), which was put on stream
in early 2011.
Performance trials are on-going to

44 PTQ Q1 2014

axens.indd 6

evaluate yields and product properties for widely different feeds and
to demonstrate equipment reliability. Preliminary results showing
yields for several blends of VGO,
hydrocracker (HC) bottoms, DAO
and atmospheric residue are shown
in Table 3. Combined light olen
(C2-C4) yields of 30-40 wt% have
been demonstrated with 15-19 wt%
propylene and 4 wt% ethylene. The
yield of butenes is similar to propylene and offers opportunities for
greater petrochemical integration,
including oligomerisation and the
FlexEne conguration for even
higher
propylene
production.7
These results are without the use of
post-separator quench injection,
which will improve olen selectivity further. The catalyst system
continues to be optimised for the
various feeds.
When viewed from a petrochemicals perspective, the ethylene

produced becomes a signicant


boost to the economics. The gasoline also has value beyond fuels,
with an octane of 98-99, olen
content of 25-40 wt% and 35-50
wt% aromatics.
The testing programme will
continue, with 100% residue cracking trials to begin soon. With a
controlled short contact time, high
C/O and p lug ow reaction
system, HS-FCC is well adapted to
be highly selective for both light and
residue
feed
conversion
to
petrochemicals.
Throughout
the
programme,
equipment evaluation, inspection
and reliability data continue to be
gathered to guide further development and scale-up to a fully
commercial scale of at least 30 000
b/d. In parallel to this work, CFD
simulation of the DFR and separator
hydrodynamics are being combined
with a kinetic model to analyse the
results, validate the kinetic models,
and enable accurate predictions at
commercial scale for future feeds
and reactor congurations.

HS-FCC in the family of catalytic


cracking processes

The HS-FCC process expands the


operating window of catalytic cracking to encompass heavier feeds and
greater
propylene
potential.
Commercial processes for high
propylene production from light
distillate feeds and residue feeds
include DCC,8 high-propylene FCC
(HP FCC) and resid to propylene
(R2P). More severe conditions for
residue feeds to attain a higher
propylene yield have proven challenging in the past due to undesired
secondary reactions. High severity,
combined with an optimised catalyst system and a controlled short
contact time DFR reaction system,
allows the new HS-FCC technology
to provide selective conversion with
lower fuel gas production and a
greater olen and petrochemicals
yield even with heavy residue feeds.
Indeed, the selectivity of the system
presents opportunities to crack a
wide range of conventional and
unconventional feedstocks.
The technology mapping by
severity and feedstock is shown in
Figure 9.

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11/12/2013 12:18

Absolute deltas, wt% of feed

also
integrated
solutions
forfor
steam/
ofWith
most Crude
refinery
off-gases,
reduc10
Very
Heavy
Upgrading
Long
Term
R&D
Wadsworth
D, LC-Fining
options
heavy
Technip
Stone
& Webster
Process
the
option
to
operate
at 11
Opportunities,
1994.
oil
upgrading,
Proceedings
of
the
NPRA
Annual
energy
generation
and
CO2
tion
in
natural
gas
and
water
conventional severity
or high sever- Technology are now offering
8
2consumption,
Yui S, Chung K H,and
Syncrude
upgrader
revamp
Meeting,
San Diego,
CA,Liquide
9-11 Marchcan
2008. also
handling.
Air
the
recovery
of
ity, the refiner6will have the ability HS-FCC technology on behalf of
improves
quality,
Oil Gas J, 2007, Vol. 12
Ordorica-Garcia
G, Croiset E, Douglas
P,
forproduct
EOR
sequestration.
an (over-the-fence)
supply
CO
the HS-FCC
Global Alliance team.
to 2select
an or
operating
mode and provide
105,With
46, 52.the configuration
Elkamel
A,
Gupta
M,
Modeling
the
energy
shown
in of air gases, power and steam,
4suited to the
prevail3feedstock
Chrones J, best
Germain
R R, Bitumen and
heavy demands
greenhouse
gas emissions of the
FlexEnecompression/liquefaction
isand
a mark
of Axens.
and
Figure
7,
the
feedstock
to
the
MPG
CO
2
ing
economic
A 1989,
high Canadian
2 conditions.
oil
upgrading
in Canada,
Fuel Sci Tech Int,
oil sands industry, Energy Fuels, 2007,
transportation.
unit
is
normally
reduced
to
that
References
product
slate rich in olefins 21, 2098.
7,severity
783.
0
amount
needed
tomakes
satisfy
the 1 Maghrabi
process forJ, maximized
aromatics
also
integra4and
Rana
M S, Samano
V, Ancheyta
J, Diaz J 13
MorawskiA,I, HS-FCC
Mosio-Mosiewski
Effects of
propylene
production,
10th Annual
Saudi-2
Conclusion
demand
of
the
complex.
If
syngas
withof petrochemicals
plants parameters in Ni-Mo catalysed
Ation
I, A review
recent advances on process
hydrocracking
Japanese
Symposium
on
Catalysis
in
Petroleum
In
the
context
of
ever
more
stringent
production
exceeds
the
amount
technologies
for upgrading
of heavy
oils and of vacuum residue on composition and quality
4 so that
more attractive
the natural
Refining
and Petrochemicals,
2000.
regulations
forTechnol,
refinneeded
required ofenvironmental
residua,
Fuel,to
2007,
86,
1216. the
obtained
products,
Fuel Dhahran,
Process
synergy
of produce
shared
intermediate
6
2
Cheng
Y,
Downer
reactor:
from
fundamental
ers,
there
is
a
trend
to
increase
(depending
first
of
all
on
5hydrogen
Speight
J
G,
The
Chemistry
and
Technology
2006,
87,
659.
products and recovery
schemes
A1
A2
A3 can A4
B1
B3
B4
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industrial
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Powder
th
of
2007,
Danial-Fortain
P,2.28
Gauthier
T, Merdrignac
ed, CRC4.01
Press/Taylor
& 4.4314
residue
with
the
crude
9% quality/origin),
Coke,
4.32
3.38 the
1.44 conversion
1.57
1.49hydrocrackAn4 example
of HS-FCC
bePetroleum,
realised.
Technology,
183,
2008.
Budzinski
H, Reactivity
Athabasca
Francis,
Boca
Raton,
FL. 8.83 be
C syngas
8.77 used
6.52 for 3.00I,ers.
0.44
0.67
0.43
0.30 of
+
liquid, %
Depending
on study
the
conversion
surplus
integration
with can
a petrochemical
3 Del0.99
Poso
M,
Development
of ultra
selective
4.76 differences
3.14
1.42vacuum
2.25in hydroconversion
1.85
1.79
gas, % S, 4.51
residue
conditions,
6power
Sayles generation
S,Fuel
Romero
Understand
rate
of
the
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University of Aachen, Germany.

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