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Improved heavy-crude conversion process boosts diesel yields

By Scott Jenkins |

A proprietary nanoscale catalyst and an updated engineering design have allowed higher conversion rates for transforming the heaviest fractions of crude oil, known as vacuum residue, into high-value transportation fuels, such as diesel. Developed by UOP LLC (Des Plaines, Ill.; www.uop.com) and called Uniflex, the technology combines elements of the CANMET hydrocracking process used by Petro-Canada from 1985–2003) with elements from UOP’s hydroprocessing technologies. Traditional approaches for refining the bottom-of-the-barrel, such as delayed coking, result in 65–75% conversion to transportation-fuel products, but Uniflex can achieve 90% conversion — mostly to diesel and naphtha. Uniflex diesel yields are usually double those from delayed coking. “The demand for low-grade fuel oil is decreasing, while the demand for diesel is growing,” says Bob Haizmann, director of UOP’s heavy oils business. “So there’s a real market opportunity for converting the heavy portion of crude oil.” UOP’s updated process includes a fine-particle catalyst that is blended with the feed stream, so that the nanoparticles flow along with the process stream and prevent coke formation by managing…
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