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Impact of Feedstock Properties on the Deactivation of a Vacuum Gas Oil Hydrocracking Catalyst

July C. Vivas-Báez, , Alberto Servia, Anne-Claire Dubreuil, David J. Pérez-Martínez
Published: 9 July 2021

Abstract: The aim of this study was to understand the impact of vacuum gas oil (VGO) properties on the deactivation rate of a hydrocracking catalyst (nickel–molybdenum sulfide dispersed on a carrier containing USY zeolite). For this purpose, two hydrotreated feeds of different densities, organic nitrogen (∼120–150 ppmw) and aromatic content, were hydrocracked under operating conditions that favor catalyst deactivation, that is, high temperature (T = 418 °C) and high space velocity (LHSV = 3 h–1). The catalyst performance was followed by measuring the VGO conversion (370 °C+ petroleum cut) and determining the apparent kinetic constants for the main hydrocracking reactions (cracking, hydrodenitrogenation, hydrodesulfurization, and aromatics hydrogenation). The experiments were stopped after different times on stream (either 6 or 30 days) in order to assess the evolution of the catalyst as a function of time. The spent catalysts, obtained from three different reactor locations, were characterized by elemental and textural analyses and by thermogravimetry to investigate the quantity and nature of the coke formed. Catalytic tests with different model compounds (toluene and n-heptane) were carried out to determine the residual activity of the hydrogenating and acid catalyst functions. It was found that, at the evaluated conditions, both the nature and the content of organic nitrogen and aromatics compounds of the feedstock have a determinant role in the deactivation rate. Organic nitrogen determines the ratio between available metal and acid sites. The aromatics generate coke precursors on the available acid sites. Both factors play a coupled role that promotes coke deposition on the catalyst surface, which leads to an increase in the deactivation rate on top of the end boiling point of the feed.
Keywords: aromatics / deactivation / evolution / functions / model / hydrocracking / coke / catalyst / organic nitrogen

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