Fluid catalytic cracking: recent developments on the grand old lady of zeolite catalysis
Fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) is one of the major conversion technologies in the oil refinery industry. FCC currently produces the majority of the world's gasoline, as well as an important fraction of propylene for the polymer industry. In this critical review, we give an overview of the latest trends in this field of research. These trends include ways to make it possible to process either very heavy or very light crude oil fractions as well as to co-process biomass-based oxygenates with regular crude oil fractions, and convert these more complex feedstocks in an increasing amount of propylene and diesel-range fuels. After providing some general background of the FCC process, including a short history as well as details on the process, reactor design, chemical reactions involved and catalyst material, we will discuss several trends in FCC catalysis research by focusing on ways to improve the zeolite structure stability, propylene selectivity and the overall catalyst accessibility by (a) the addition of rare earth elements and phosphorus, (b) constructing hierarchical pores systems and (c) the introduction of new zeolite structures. In addition, we present an overview of the state-of-the-art micro-spectroscopy methods for characterizing FCC catalysts at the single particle level. These new characterization tools are able to explain the influence of the harsh FCC processing conditions (e.g. steam) and the presence of various metal poisons (e.g. V, Fe and Ni) in the crude oil feedstocks on the 3-D structure and accessibility of FCC catalyst materials.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Recent Advances in Zeolite Chemistry and Catalysis