Jump menu

Main content |  back to top

Refining catalysts - At a glance

Increasingly stringent fuel and environmental regulations, heavier crudes and feedstocks, and soaring energy demand have created complex, and sometimes conflicting, challenges for refiners operating hydroprocessing units. In response, many refiners are building new licensed units or revamping their existing facilities.

Shell Global Solutions can provide customers with an optimised hydroprocessing solution from its extensive, leading-edge technology design portfolio. Working closely with our customers and our affiliated catalyst teams, which include Criterion Catalysts & Technologies (Criterion) and Zeolyst International (Zeolyst), we develop cost-effective and customised designs.

About the technology

In association with Criterion and Zeolyst, we continue to develop hydroprocessing catalysts with improved activity, selectivity and stability. New products introduced to the market in the last five years account for 50% of our catalyst sales.

Customers benefit from the combined experience and expertise of Shell Global Solutions, Criterion (the world’s largest hydroprocessing catalyst supplier and having a track record of over 50 years) and Zeolyst. Zeolyst is the global leader in commercial and speciality zeolites, and its state-of-the-art hydrocracking catalysts are currently installed in more than 50 of the world’s hydrocracking units.  

Our catalyst portfolio covers the entire range of hydroprocessing applications, including:

  • tail gas treating;
  • alkylation pretreatment;
  • paraffin isomerisation;
  • xylene isomerisation;
  • naphtha reforming (fixed and moving bed);
  • gasoline desulphurisation;
  • naphtha hydrotreating;
  • distillate hydrotreating;
  • fluidised catalytic cracking pretreatment;
  • hydrocracking pretreatment;
  • hydrocracking;
  • lubricant production (hydrocracking, hydrofinishing and dewaxing);
  • fixed and ebullated-bed residue hydrotreating; and
  • catalyst-bed grading products.

Process description

Refining catalysts - Figure 1

Figure 1: As sulphur specifications have become increasingly stringent, the activity levels of Criterion’s catalysts have increased.

Continuous R&D has helped to improve the relative volume activity of Criterion’s market-leading desulphurisation catalysts by a factor of five.

However, the performance of any reactor system is also a function of its design elements, including the internals.

By applying Shell Global Solutions’ proprietary reactor internals, additional reactor volume is made available for the catalyst.

Coupled with improved catalyst utilisation, this can result in a 30–50% performance improvement, longer cycle lengths and greater plant availability.

Performance data

Product-demand shifts, changes in crude oil sources, local market conditions and design differences in individual units dictate a flexible and tailored approach for developing a robust solution.

Our process team works closely with Criterion and Zeolyst technologists to match hardware and catalyst properties, and to create an optimised system designed to produce a customer’s desired product slate.

Proof points

Marathon Oil Corporation

Regulations introduced by the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA required a drastic reduction in the sulphur content of on-road diesel produced by US refineries. Marathon’s Detroit refinery invested $300 million in an expansion and clean fuels project, which included revamping the distillate hydrotreater using Shell Global Solutions’ reactor internals technology, to make ultra-lowsulphur diesel (UL SD). The refinery also upgraded to a higher-activity desulphurisation catalyst from Criterion to help maintain the design cycle length and increase the processing flexibility while meeting the stringent sulphur limits of 8 ppm.

Reliance Industries

Criterion’s high-performance catalysts were selected for Reliance’s new 580,000-bbl/d, export-focused refinery in Jamnagar. The catalysts will be applied in two grass-roots vacuum gas oil units and UL SD units. Shell Global Solutions has been providing Reliance with technical support since 1999, shortly before the refinery’s commissioning and start-up phase.

Business value

Have you considered

Customers have access to a licensing technology package that includes Shell Global Solutions’ reactor internals hardware optimised with market-leading catalysts from Criterion and Zeolyst. It helps to deliver:

  • higher-value, improved-quality products; and
  • robust, flexible unit performance.

Other parts of the technology package we offer include technical service support and troubleshooting, for example, regularly scheduled performance monitoring and reviews by Criterion and Zeolyst; benchmarking against industry standards for operations; technical audits; advice on operational procedures; and revamping studies.