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Increasing olefins yield

Plant data show how an FCCUs propylene yield is maximised while minimising
its dry gas and slurry yield at a CEPSA refinery
Jose Maria Aguilar and J M Leon Gil CEPSA Gibraltar-San Roque refinery
Fernando Sanchez Arandilla Grace Davison



he Spanish oil group CEPSA

operates three refineries in
Spain Gibraltar-San Roque,

La Rbida and Tenerife which in
total can distil 430 000 bpd (or

21.5 million tpy) of crude oil, representing more than one-third of
Spains distillation capacity. Two of

these refineries, including the 240
000 bpd (or 12 million tpy)

Gibraltar-San Roque facility, operate FCCUs that are currently

utilising FCC catalysts from Grace
Davisons ProtAgon family of cataProtAgon17C
lysts. The main FCCU objective at

the Gibraltar-San Roque refinery is
to maximise its propylene production, as well as to minimise its dry
gas yield while using high nickel- Figure 1 Evolution of dry gas production in the Gibraltar-San Roque FCCU
containing feedstocks, minimise its
slurry yield and increase LPG

The Gibraltar-San Roque FCCU
is a UOP side-by-side (SBS) design

100% ProtAgon17C
operating at 538C and typically
processing feedstock with a UOP

K-factor (K) of 12.0 and specific
gravity (SG) of 0.915. The facility is

distinguished by its petrochemicals-producing capabilities and its

lubricant manufacturing units.
Consequently, its range of products

is more diverse than those
produced by a typical refinery.




FCC operating data

In December 2003, the GibraltarSan Roque FCCU was modified to Figure 2 Propylene production in the Gibraltar-San Roque FCCU

Catalysis 2009 1

OlefinsUltra) was compared to
ProtAgon-17C, a catalyst already
used in another CEPSA refinery.

Grace Davison developed this
first-generation ProtAgon catalyst
to maintain or increase the
propylene make and allow CEPSA

to operate a different optimisation scenario. The data obtained
in the Davison circulating riser

(DCR) pilot plant established that
ProtAgon-17C offered all the
benefits required to meet the

FCCUs objectives, so CEPSA
chose to use it at its GibraltarSan Roque refinery.
During the first six months, a
Figure 3 Propylene production at constant fresh throughput
blend of 50% ProtAgon-17C and
50% Brilliant (with 89%

OlefinsUltra), the previous cata"RILLIANT /LEFINS5LTRA
lyst, was used. ProtAgon-17C had
a quick impact on the FCCU

and continued to perform well.
As a result, CEPSA decided to use

100% ProtAgon-17C.
As well as maximising its
propylene yield, an important

objective for the refinery was to
reduce its dry gas production.

Figure 1 shows this objective was
clearly achieved using ProtAgon17C. Also, Figure 2 shows that

propylene production started to
increase as soon as ProtAgon-17C
was added to the FCCU, despite
Figure 4 Comparison of LPG yield with feed aromaticity
the fact that the unit was very
maximise propylene production, and by the close to its hydraulic limit. In addition, when
summer of 2005 was operating successfully. propylene production is compared at constant
However, when the unit began processing a feed- fresh throughput, it is clear that ProtAgon-17C has
stock that contained twice as much nickel, there a beneficial effect compared to the Brilliant catawas a huge increase in its dry gas yield, which lyst, as shown in Figure 3. ProtAgon-17C offered
started to limit the light ends area. This resulted CEPSA the opportunity to open its operating
in the need to operate at a lower reactor temper- window, allowing an increase in LPG yield at
ature, leading to a lower propylene and butylenes constant feed quality, maintaining LPG yield while
yield and an increase in slurry; in other words, a using a more aromatic feed (Figure 4) or reducing
unit severity. Figure 5 shows the evolution of the
reduction in total throughput.
CEPSAs R&D facilities in Madrid carried out slurry yield, which has decreased steadily over
an extensive catalyst evaluation in 2007 to look time following the switch to ProtAgon-17C.
at the options for maximising propylene, while
taking into consideration the constraints of the Conclusion
commercial FCCU. The base catalyst Brilliant The CEPSA Gibraltar-San Roque refinery


2 Catalysis 2009


switched from a technology that

utilised an additive for propylene

maximisation to an integral catalyst system. The new technology

uses ProtAgon-17C, a propylene

maximisation catalyst from Grace
Davison. This catalyst led to a

clear increase in propylene yield,

while providing a lower hydrogen
and dry gas make. It also allows

CEPSA to process a higher

throughput or higher nickelProtAgon17C

containing feeds while avoiding
limitations in the fuel gas system.

Further benefits include a higher
conversion and a clear improvement in bottoms cracking, which Figure 5 Evolution of slurry yield
has resulted in historically low
slurry yield values, achieved at slightly lower Fernando Sanchez Arandilla is Regional Technical Sales Manager
at Iberian Peninsula, Grace Davison Europe. Sanchez Arandilla
catalyst additions.
has a BS in Chemical Engineering from Granada University.
ProtAgon, Brilliant and OlefinsUltra are marks of Grace Davison.

Jose Maria Aguilar is FCC Plant Manager, CEPSA Gibraltar-San
Roque refinery, Spain. Maria Aguilar has a BS in chemistry from
Cdiz University.
J M Leon Gil is FCC Process Engineer, CEPSA Gibraltar-San Roque
refinery, Spain. Leon Gil has a BS in industrial engineering from
Seville University.

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Catalysis 2009 3