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Catalytic hydrocracking is a refining process that uses hydrogen and catalysts at relatively low

temperature and high pressures for converting middle boiling pointsto naphtha, reformer charge
stock, diesel fuel, jet fuel, or high-grade fuel oil. Theprocess uses one or more catalysts,
depending upon product output, and can handlehigh-sulfur feedstocks. Hydrocracking is used for
feedstocks that are difficult toprocess by either catalytic cracking or reforming, because the
feedstocks are usuallycharacterized by a high polycyclic aromatic content or high concentrations
of olefins, sulfur, and nitrogen compounds.

The need for gasoline of a higher quality thanthat obtainable by catalytic crackingled to the
development of the hydrocracking process.
This interest in the use of hydrocracking has been caused by several factors, including (1) the
demand for petroleum products has shifted to high demand for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel
compared with the usages of other products, (2) by-product hydrogen at low cost and in large
amounts has become available from catalytic reforming operations, and (3) environmental
concerns limiting sulfur and aromatic compound concentrations in motor fuels have increased.
Some of the advantages of hydrocracking are
Better balance of gasoline and distillate production
Greater gasoline boiling-range naphtha yields
Improved gasoline pool octane quality and sensitivity
Production of relatively high amounts of isobutane in the butane fraction
Supplementing of fluid catalytic cracking to upgrade heavy cracking stocks, aromatics,
cycle oils, and coker oils to gasoline, jet fuels, and diesel
In a modern refinery, catalytic cracking and hydrocracking work as a team. The catalytic cracker
takes the more easily cracked paraffinic atmospheric and vacuum gas oils as charge stocks,
whereas the hydrocracker uses more aromatic cycle oils and coker distillates as feed.
The new zeolite cracking catalysts help improve the gasoline yields and octanes from catalytic
crackers as well as reduce the cycle stock and gas make. However, the cycle oil still represents a
difficult fraction to crack catalytically to extinction.
One alternative is to use the cycle stock as a component for fuel oil blending, but this is limited,
as it is a relatively poor-burning stock and burns with a smoky flame.
The cycle oil still represents a difficult fraction to crack catalytically to extinction. One
alternative is to use the cycle stock as a component for fuel oil blending, but this is limited, as it
is a relatively poor-burning stock and burns with a smoky flame. For this reason, a limit is placed
on the percentage thatcan be blended into distillate fuel oils.
The cycle oils that result from cracking operations with zeolite catalysts tend to be highly
aromatic and, therefore, make satisfactory feedstocks for hydrocracking. Vacuum and coker gas
oils, are also used as hydrocracker feed, but the end points are lower than those for FCC
feedstocks
Typical feed stock for hydrocracking with their respective products are given below:
Feed Products
Naptha Propane and butane
Kerosine Naphtha
Straight-run diesel Naphtha and/or jet fuel
Atmospheric gas oil Naphtha, jet fuel, or diesel
Vacuum gas oil Naphtha, jet fuel, diesel, lube oil
Deasphalted oil Naphtha, jet fuel, distillates, lube oil
FCC LCO Naphtha
FCC HCO Naphtha or distillates
Coker LCGO Naphtha or distillates
Coker HCGO Naphtha or distillates

FEED PREPARATION
Hydrocracking catalyst is susceptible to poisoning by metallic salts, oxygen, organic nitrogen
compounds, and sulfur in the feedstocks. The feedstock is hydrotreated to saturate the olefins and
remove sulfur, nitrogen, and oxygen compounds. Molecules containing metals are cracked, and
the metals are retained on the catalyst. The nitrogen and sulfur compounds are removed by
conversion to ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.
Although organic nitrogen compounds are thought to act as permanent poisons to the catalyst,
the ammonia produced by reaction of the organic nitrogen compounds with hydrogen does not
affect the catalyst permanently.
For some types of hydrocracking catalysts, the presence of hydrogen sulfide in low
concentrationsacts to inhibit the saturation of aromatic rings. This is a beneficial effect when
maximizing gasoline production, as it conserves hydrogen and produces a higher octane product.
In addition to the removal of nitrogen and sulfur compounds and metals, it is also necessary to
reduce the water content of the feed streams to less than 25 ppm because, at the temperatures
required for hydrocracking, steam causes the crystalline structure of the catalyst to collapse and
the dispersed rare-earth atoms to agglomerate.In addition to the removal of nitrogen and sulfur
compounds and metals, it is also necessary to reduce the water content of the feed streams to less
than 25 ppm because, at the temperatures required for hydrocracking, steam causes the
crystalline structure of the catalyst to collapse and the dispersed rare-earth atoms to agglomerate.
THE HYDROCRACKING PROCESS
There are a number of hydrocracking processes available, all hydrocracking and hydroprocessing
processes in use today are fixed-bed catalytic processes with liquid downflow. The
hydrocracking process may require either one or two stages, depending upon the process and the
feedstocks used. The process flows of most of the fixed-bed processes are similar, and
theGOFining process will be described as a typical fixed-bed hydrocracking process.
The GOfining process is a fixed-bed regenerative process employing a molecularsieve catalyst
impregnated with a rare-earth metal. The process employs either singlestage or two-stage
hydrocracking with typical operating conditions ranging from 660 to 785F (350 to 420C) and
from 1000 to 2000 psig (6900 to 13,800 kPa). The temperature and pressure vary with the age of
the catalyst, the product desired, and the properties of the feedstock.
The decision to use a single- or two-stage system depends upon the size of the unit and the
product desired. For most feedstocks, the use of a single stage will permit the total conversion of
the feed material to gasoline and lighter products by recycling the heavier material back to the
reactor. The process flow for a two-stage reactor is shown in Figure 1. If only one stage is used,
the process flow is the same as that of the first stage of the two-stage plant, except the
fractionation tower bottoms is recycled to the reactor feed.

The fresh feed is mixed with makeup hydrogen and recycle gas (high in hydrogen content) and
passed through a heater to the first reactor. If the feed has not been hydrotreated, there is a guard
reactor before the first hydrocracking reactor. The guard reactor usually has modified
hydrotreating catalyst such as cobalt-molybdenum on silica-alumina to convert organic sulfur
and nitrogen compounds to hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and hydrocarbons to protect the precious
metals catalyst in the following reactors. The hydrocracking reactor(s) is operated at a
sufficiently high temperature to convert 40 to 50 vol% of the reactor effluent to material boiling
below 400F (205C). The reactor effluent goes through heat exchangers to a high-pressure
separator, where the hydrogen-rich gases are separated and recycled to the first stage for mixing
both makeup hydrogen and fresh feed. The liquid product from the separator is sent to a
distillation column, where the C4 and lighter gases are taken off overhead, and the light and
heavy naphtha, jet fuel, and diesel fuel boiling range streams are removed as liquid sidestreams.
The fractionator bottoms are used as feed to the second-stage reactor system. The unit can be
operated to produce all gasolineand lighter products or to maximize jet fuel or diesel fuel
products.
The bottoms stream from the fractionator is mixed with recycle hydrogen from the second stage
and sent through a furnace to the second-stage reactor. Here, the temperature is maintained to
bring the total conversion of the unconverted oil from the first-stage and second-stage recycle to
50 to 70 vol% per pass. The second-stage product is combined with the first-stage product prior
to fractionation.
Both the first- and second-stage reactors contain several beds of catalysts. The major reason for
having separate beds is to provide locations for injecting cold recycled hydrogen into the reactors
for temperature control. In addition, redistribution of the feed and hydrogen between the beds
helps to maintain a more uniform utilization of the catalyst.
Fig. 1. Flow sheet Two-stage hydrocracker

HYDROCRACKING CATALYST
There are a number of hydrocracking catalysts available, and the actual composition is tailored to
the process, feed material, and products desired. Most of the hydrocracking catalysts consist of a
crystalline mixture of silica-alumina with a smalluniformly distributed amount of rare earths
contained within the crystalline lattice. The silica-alumina portion of the catalyst provides
cracking activity, whereas the rare-earth metals promote hydrogenation. Catalyst activity
decreases with use, and reactor temperatures are raised during a run to increase reaction rate and
maintain conversion. The catalyst selectivity also changes with age, and more gas is made and
less naphtha produced as the catalyst temperature is raised to maintain conversion.
Regeneration is accomplished by burning off the catalyst deposits, and catalyst activity is
restored to close to its original level. The catalyst can undergo several regenerations before it is
necessary to replace it.
HYDROCRACKING REACTIONS