The appetite for residue upgrading through the application of ebullated-bed hydrocracking is growing around the world, as it is a well-established, commercially proven technology offering very high conversion levels and can help, therefore, to minimize the amount of bottoms sent to the bunker fuel pool. Moreover, the attractiveness of ebullated-bed hydrocracking as a technology solution for refiners has been enhanced by the recent trend for greater vacuum residue (VR) feed processing flexibility, which leads to improved refinery crude diversification economics.

Ebullated-bed hydrocracking is a long-established technology that can provide conversion of up to 80% (524°C+) of very refractive VR feeds with high contaminant metals and Conradson carbon residue (CCR) contents. Since ebullated-bed hydrocracking was commercialized in the 1960s, 16 units have been built. In the last four years, its popularity has increased significantly; another six units are planned to be online by 2020.

A Customized Approach to Catalyst Development

Ebullated-bed hydrocrackers are highly customized according to a refiner’s specific objectives and there has been a great deal of innovation in the latest grassroots designs.

Earlier-generation designs were more closely integrated with downstream fluidized catalytic cracking units and the key products required further upgrading to meet the required specifications. In contrast, the design of newer-generation units features an integrated hydrocracker–high-pressure hydrotreater in the same high-pressure loop. This enables direct production of high-value transportation fuels such as ultra-low-sulphur diesel from VR.

Shell currently operates both types of ebullated-bed unit licensed technologies: Axens’ H-OilRC and Chevron Lummus Global’s LC-FINING technology. Additionally, we have more than 40 years’ experience in ebullated-bed catalysts and currently supply customized catalysts to both H-OilRC and LC-FINING units.

Shell Sarnia workers clean a suction screen used in residue upgrading

Benefit from our Experience in Ebullated-Bed Hydrocracking

The demand for residue upgrading through the application of ebullated-bed hydrocracking is growing around the world, as it is a well-established, commercially proven technology. Shell Catalysts & Technologies approach to residue upgrading is highly customized according to a refiner’s specific objectives and there has been a great deal of innovation in the latest grassroots designs. We have more than 40 years’ experience in ebullated-bed catalysts and currently supply customized catalysts to both H-OilRC and LC-FINING units.

Gasification Technology

Monetize refinery residues, asphaltenes, and heavy oils by converting them into syngas with our Residue and Natural Gas Gasification process.

Hydrocracking Technology

Shell hydrocracking technology provides several commercial benefits for refineries including improvements in product yield, unit stability, and enhanced turnaround times.