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R&DC Quest 2012

Chemicals R&D Team

The objective of this team is to grow an oil-based petrochemicals business by distinctive and valuable technologies targeted at producing high performance chemical intermediates and products. Research areas identified and actively being pursued to establish process routes for improving refinery petrochemical integration benefits span the growth of liquid hydrocarbon as choice feedstocks to utilization of lower value streams from High-Severity Fluid Catalytic Cracking (HS-FCC) and other processes. HS-FCC is the key developed base technology on which the initiative evolves to new competitive routes to produce olefins and light aromatics. Our research also extends to developing technologies for more directly converting whole crude oil to petrochemicals via a combination of catalytic and non-catalytic cracking processes. Additionally, we explore viable processes that utilize some of the lower valued products from HS-FCC or refineries for further competitive manufacture of intermediates, petrochemicals and performance fuel components.

Where we are today

The Chemicals Research Team has developed, through partnership with other entities, the High-Severity Fluid Catalytic Cracking Technology that culminated in successful startup and operation of a 3,000 barrel per stream day semi-commercial plant by one of our technology partners, JX Nippon Oil & Energy, in their refinery in Japan. Leveraging this proven technology, we are also currently developing routes to directly crack other feedstocks such as condensates and crude oil, in conjunction with development of novel high-olefins catalysts. Through a combination of catalytic pretreatment and thermal cracking processes, we are advancing the development of a relatively new technology invention for directly converting whole crude oil to petrochemicals without the need for a conventional refinery. Toward capturing refinery petrochemical integration benefits, we are developing technologies for converting lower value refinery streams to higher value products. One such technology we are developing is a cost-effective catalytic process for enhancing para-xylene production by trans-alkylation of toluene and heavy aromatics, while another technology is a distinctive one-step process to convert a mixture of butene gas isomers into mixed butanol liquid isomers, which are superior oxygenates, without the need for separation of the isomers.

Chemical Challenges

  1. Direct conversion of crude oil to chemicals
  2. Effective non-corrosive olefin hydration catalyst and process