Arkansas Patent of the Month – May 2021

Hydroprocessing is a combination of hydrotreating or hydrocracking to remove impurities. Feedstocks like petroleum resids, vegetable oils, and bunker fuel are often packed full of impurities ranging from gums to metals. Traditional hydroprocessing uses a trickle-bed reactor to distribute a liquid reactant first across the top to then spread evenly across the catalyst bed. But this system causes a higher concentration of removed contaminants at the top of the catalyst bed and leads to “plugging” Plugging leads to pressure drops within the reactor which can be detrimental to the process. The only way to fix it, is to halt the system and replace the catalyst – a costly and inefficient system. Duke Technologies has been working on developing an improved hydroprocessing reactor that can better utilize the catalyst and improve efficiencies.

The key difference in their redesigned reactor is that it distributes the liquid reactant across the entire surface of the catalyst bed, rather than at the top and allows it to trickle down. This change prevents plugging and extends the catalyst’s life. A basket within the reactor vessel is set up with particulate material which can remove contaminants from the feedstock. As the contaminants are removed, the purified feedstock exits out of an outlet. The catalyst can then contact this purified feedstock to react as needed and form the final product.

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