Success stories

Avantium already offers groundbreaking services and systems to more than 70 companies worldwide. Because the majority of our partnerships are protected by strict confidentiality agreements, we are only able to reveal a brief glimpse of our many success stories.

VGO Hydrodesulfurization
Fischer Tropsch catalysis
Parallel testing of Hydroprocessing Catalysts

Besides our success stories we are very proud of the publications from our customers on work that is done using our Flowrence technology.

  • High-throughput reactor system for optimization of Mo-V-Nb mixed oxide catalysts composition in ethane ODH – KAUST

Go to our Publications page.

VGO Hydrodesulfurization

Customer objective

Faced with limited catalyst testing capacity in their own plant (20 ml scale), our customer, a manufacturer of hydrotreating catalysts, was keen to acquire the capabilities and know-how to screen different catalysts internally. Avantium was asked to prove that parallel testing on a small scale offers the same results as larger-scale testing in their pilot plant.

Our approach

Using the Flowrence® technology with 16 parallel reactors in order to individually control the gas and liquid feeds to each reactor, the tests included:

  • Commercial VGO as a feedstock
  • Different catalysts, as extrudates and crushed and sieved in 100-150 µm fraction
  • Product S and N content measured daily
  • Process conditions: 80 bar, 355, 365, 375 and 385°C
  • H2/Oil ratio: 800
  • LHSV comparable to customer’s pilot plant

Results

Test results of two catalysts, both as extrudates and crushed.

For Catalyst A size had no effect on the product sulfur content, whereas for Catalyst B the crushed form had a lower outlet sulfur content. Our tests concluded that the extrudates of Catalyst B clearly suffered from internal diffusion limitations.

The outlet sulfur content for extrudates measured by Avantium, compared to measurements from the customers’s own pilot plant. There is an excellent correlation between the Flowrence® results and those from the pilot plant. The lower outlet sulfur content measured with Flowrence® is a consequence of the more ideal conditions found at 1 ml scale.

Value created

Using Flowrence® to accurately measure the performance of hydrotreating catalyst, we made visible the diffusion effects by testing both extrudates and crushed catalysts. The customer was able to correlate his own results in the pilot plant with our Flowrence® data. In the end, our customer purchased Flowrence® to speed up his own catalyst development activities and lessen their dependence on pilot plant tests.

Fischer Tropsch catalysis

Customer objective

Our customer asked us to run a catalyst improvement program by testing some 500 catalysts. The prerequisite to the study was that the various experiments should be easily reproducible.

Our approach

Experiments were carried out in one of our proprietary 64 reactor Nanoflow systems. Because high alpha waxes form during the Fischer Tropsch reaction, we needed to control gas/liquid separation at high temperatures. The tests included:

  • Online analysis of gas phase products
  • Offline analysis of liquid products (waxes)
  • Feed: syngas, different ratios of H2/CO
  • Additional feed of water
  • Process conditions: 150-550°C, 10-100 barg
  • GHSV up to 100,000 h-1

Value created

Using our 64 reactor Nanoflow systems to test more than 500 new catalysts in 9 individual experiments, we discovered a minimal inter-experiment variability. This approach allowed us to easily compare catalysts across different experiments, resulting in the identification of several promising leads that are currently being tested at a larger scale.

A parallel lifetime study of different catalysts lasting more than 3 months yielded important catalyst lifetime and kinetic information. If this study had been conducted on a single reactor, it would have taken more than 33 years!

Inter-experiment reproducibility.

We tested over 500 different catalysts in 9 runs. The reference catalyst conversion was found to be 29.5±1.3%, a relatively standard deviation of 4%.

Parallel lifetime study of >3 months. Various catalysts are kept at constant conversion by careful adjustment of the feed flow rate for a reference catalyst.

Parallel testing of Hydroprocessing Catalysts

Introduction

Conventional refinery catalyst development and catalyst selection are done in micro or bench scale reactors and pilot plants. Evaluation at this scale is time and material consuming and labor intensive. Small scale parallel fixed bed reactor systems designed for catalyst intake up to 1 ml, have been developed at Avantium in order to enhance catalyst development and optimization for refinery applications.

Refining catalysts were tested in the Flowrence® under commercial conditions using 16 parallel reactors. In all experiments the catalysts were loaded in the presence of diluent particles in order to avoid catalyst bypassing and to ensure plug flow conditions.

Flowrence® Technology

hydro2hydro3

From left to right: 1. Flowrence® for hydroprocessing, 2. schematic representation of the Flowrence® setup with 16 parallel reactors, sample collection and on-line analysis; 3. Flowrence® reactor tubes (30 cm); 4. reactor loading in reactor section, 5. Flowrence® for hydroprocessing, overview.

Experimental

Reactor tube with whole extrudates, before and after loading with diluent

 

 

Reactor tube with whole extrudates, before and after loading with diluent

Hydrotreating

15 catalysts were loaded (3×5) in order to study test reproducibility and obtain absolute performance data. Hydrotreating of SRGO under commercial conditions:

  • 320-360°C
  • 30 bar
  • LHSV=1.0 h-1
  • catalyst loading = 0.5-1.0 ml
  • testing of whole extrudates (1.6 mm)

Hydrocracking

6 different catalysts were loaded in multiples of 2 or 3 in order to test reproducibility and obtain absolute performance data. Hydrocracking of a doped VGO (60% above 700°F) was carried out under commercial conditions with first stage catalysts:

  • 350-450°C
  • 150 bar
  • LHSV=0.5-4 h-1
  • gas/oil 300-1500
  • catalyst loading = 0.6 ml
  • testing of whole extrudates
Results

Hydrotreating

15 catalysts were loaded (3×5) in order to study test reproducibility and obtain absolute performance data. Hydrotreating of SRGO under commercial conditions:

  • Reproducibility in the Flowrence reactors was higher than in 20 ml reactors
  • Reproducible measurement of conversions up to 99.98% (S to 8 ppm)
  • Plug flow conditions are obtained
  • T-required to 20 ppm of sulfur with low RSD of 0.3-0.8°C
  • Low RSD (rel. standard deviation) of 0.2% and 0.7%, for pressure and gas-to-oil ratio

Sulfur levels versus time on stream. Three temperatures were applied.

 

 

 

 

Sulfur levels versus time on stream. Three temperatures were applied.

 

T-required to 20 ppm sulfur for 3 different catalysts.

Hydrocracking

  • Mass balance within a bandwidth of 3% for conversions of 15-95%
  • Reactor-to-reactor reproducibility was within 2°F
  • Total distillate mass yield within 0.5% (data compared at the same conversion)

Comparison with 20 ml scale:

  • Same catalyst ranking
  • Linear correlation for the temperature to reach 65% conversion
  • Linear correlation for the total distillate yields at 65% conversion
  • Very similar absolute conversion and selectivity levels
  • Total distillate mass yield within 0.5% (data compared at the same conversion)

 

T-required-T-offset (°F) to reach 65% conversion, 20 ml reactor vs Flowrence.

 

Total distillate yield Y-Y-offset(%) at 65% conversion, 20 ml reactor vs Flowrence.

 

Total distillate yield Y-Y-offset(%) at 65% conversion, 20 ml reactor vs Flowrence.

Conclusions

The Flowrence® reactor system operating with catalyst volumes of 0.5-1.0 ml have a proven high predictive power for larger scale operation, both in ranking, absolute values and activity and yield trends.

Avantium’s small scale testing capabilities for hydrotreating and hydrocracking are at least as valuable as bench scale units, with the prime advantage of being an order of magnitude faster and at least a factor of 4 less expensive in operation than bench scale reactors.

Avantium Flowrences® for hydroprocessing R&D found their way to the world’s leading companies in the field.

Refining catalysts were tested in the Flowrence® under commercial conditions using 16 parallel reactors. In all experiments the catalysts were loaded in the presence of diluent particles in order to avoid catalyst bypassing and to ensure plug flow conditions.