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Publication numberUS20030088137 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/992,371
Publication dateMay 8, 2003
Filing dateNov 6, 2001
Priority dateNov 6, 2001
Also published asCA2466009A1, CA2466009C, CN1273566C, CN1612923A, DE60225712D1, DE60225712T2, EP1444311A2, EP1444311B1, US6570047, WO2003054113A2, WO2003054113A3
Publication number09992371, 992371, US 2003/0088137 A1, US 2003/088137 A1, US 20030088137 A1, US 20030088137A1, US 2003088137 A1, US 2003088137A1, US-A1-20030088137, US-A1-2003088137, US2003/0088137A1, US2003/088137A1, US20030088137 A1, US20030088137A1, US2003088137 A1, US2003088137A1
InventorsCharles Mart, Robert Wittenbrink, Janet Clark, Jennifer Feeley
Original AssigneeMart Charles John, Wittenbrink Robert Jay, Clark Janet Renee, Feeley Jennifer Schaefer
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Slurry hydrocarbon synthesis with external hydroisomerization in downcomer reactor loop
US 20030088137 A1
Abstract
A slurry Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis process for synthesizing liquid hydrocarbons from synthesis gas, in a hydrocarbon synthesis reactor, also hydroisomerizes the synthesized hydrocarbons in one or more external downcomer reactor hydroisomerizing loops outside of the reactor, but which are a part of the synthesis reactor. A monolithic catalyst is used for the hydroisomerization, and slurry circulation between the synthesis reactor and the one or more hydroisomerization loops is achieved, at least in part, by density-difference driven hydraulics created by removing gas bubbles from the slurry passed into the loop. Preferably, catalyst particles are also removed before the slurry contacts the monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst.
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Claims(27)
What is claimed is:
1. A process for hydroisomerizing the slurry hydrocarbon liquid produced in a slurry Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis reactor, while said reactor is producing said liquid from a synthesis gas and wherein said slurry in said synthesis reactor comprises gas bubbles and catalyst particles in said liquid, said process comprising:
(a) contacting a portion of said slurry with means for removing gas bubbles, to produce a gas bubble reduced slurry having a density greater than that of said slurry in said synthesis reactor;
(b) passing a hydrogen treat gas and said densified, gas bubble reduced slurry into and down through a hydroisomerization zone in one or more downcomer reactors external of said synthesis reactor and, in fluid communication with said slurry therein, each said downcomer reactor containing a hydroisomerization catalyst therein which defines a hydroisomerization zone;
(c) reacting said gas bubble reduced slurry and hydrogen in the presence of said hydroisomerization catalyst, at reaction conditions effective to hydroisomerize at least a portion of said liquid and produce a hydroisomerized liquid, and
(d) passing all or a portion of said hydroisomerized hydrocarbon liquid back into said synthesis reactor in which it mixes with said slurry therein and forms part of said slurry liquid.
2. A process according to claim 1 wherein there is more than one downcomer reactor.
3. A process according to claim 2 wherein at least one downcomer contains noble metal containing hydroisomerization catalyst and wherein at least one other downcomer contains non-noble metal hydroisomerization catalyst.
4. A process according to claim 1 wherein circulation of said gas bubble reduced slurry down through said downcomer reactor and back into said synthesis reactor is produced at least in part by density-driven hydraulics due to said slurry density differences.
5. A process a cording to claim 4 wherein said slurry hydrocarbon liquid is intermittently or continuously withdrawn as product liquid from said synthesis reactor, while it is producing said hydrocarbon slurry liquid.
6. A process according to claim 5 wherein, in addition to gas bubble removal, at least a portion of said catalyst particles are also removed from said slurry, before it is passed down into said hydroisomerization zone.
7. A process according to claim 6 wherein said hydroisomerization catalyst comprises a monolithic catalyst.
8. A process according to claim 7 wherein said hydroisomerization catalyst is in the form of a monolith.
9. A process according to claim 7 wherein said monolithic catalyst comprises a plurality of monolithic catalyst bodies vertically arrayed in said zone.
10. A process according to claim 9 wherein at least a portion of said slurry liquid removed from said synthesis reactor is passed to at least one upgrading operation comprising at least fractionation and/or one or more conversion operations.
11. A process according to claim 10 wherein said one or more downcomer reactors are connected to and depend from said synthesis reactor.
12. A process according to claim 11 wherein at least a portion of said monolithic bodies are vertically spaced apart in said hydroisomerization zone.
13. A process according to claim 12 wherein said hydrogen treat gas is passed into said zone through at least two separate gas injection means vertically spaced apart along said zone, each upstream of a monolithic catalyst body.
14. A process according to claim 13 wherein a static mixing means is located in at least a portion of said spaces between said monolithic bodies.
15. A process according to claim 14 wherein at least a portion of said hydrogen is injected into said hydroisomerization zone upstream of at least one of said mixing means.
16. A process according to claim 15 wherein said gas bubbles and particulate solids are removed from said slurry by gas bubble and solids removing means immersed in said slurry in said synthesis reactor.
17. A process according to claim 16 wherein said gas bubbles and particulate solids are removed from said slurry liquid upstream of said hydroisomerizing zone by density difference.
18. A process according to claim 17 wherein said gas bubble reduced slurry liquid is fed into said one or more lift reactors by downcomer means immersed in said slurry in said synthesis reactor.
19. A slurry hydrocarbon synthesis process which includes hydroisomerizing hydrocarbon liquid produced by the synthesis reaction while said hydrocarbon liquid is being produced from a synthesis gas comprises the steps of:
(a) passing said synthesis gas comprising a mixture of H2 and CO into a slurry body comprising a three-phase main slurry body in a slurry Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis reactor, in which said slurry body comprises gas bubbles and a particulate hydrocarbon synthesis catalyst in a slurry hydrocarbon liquid;
(b) reacting said H2 and CO in the presence of said catalyst at reaction conditions effective to form hydrocarbons, a portion of which are liquid at said reaction conditions and comprise said slurry liquid;
(c) contacting a portion of said slurry from said slurry body with means for removing gas bubbles, to form a gas bubble reduced slurry densified to a density greater than that of said slurry comprising said slurry body;
(d) passing a hydrogen treat gas and said densified slurry into and down through a hydroisomerization zone in one or more downcomer reactors external of, in fluid contact with and depending from, said synthesis reactor, in which they react in the presence of a monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst to form a hydroisomerized hydrocarbon liquid of reduced pour point, and wherein circulation of said densified slurry down through said one or more downcomer reactors and back into said synthesis reactor, is produced at least in part by density-driven hydraulics due to said slurry density differences;
(e) passing at least a portion of said hydroisomerized hydrocarbon liquid back into said synthesis reactor in which it mixes with said slurry body therein.
20. A process according to claim 19 wherein said slurry hydrocarbon liquid is intermittently or continuously withdrawn as product liquid from said synthesis reactor, while it is producing said hydrocarbon slurry liquid and wherein at least a portion of said product liquid is passed to at least one upgrading operation comprising at least fractionation and/or one or more conversion operations.
21. A process according to claim 20 wherein said gas bubble reduced slurry is passed through heat exchange means to change its temperature to a value different than that in said slurry reactor, before it reacts with said hydrogen in said hydroisomerization zone.
22. A process according to claim 21 wherein said monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst comprises a plurality of vertically arrayed monolithic catalyst bodies, at least a portion of which are vertically spaced apart.
23. A process according to claim 22 wherein said hydrogen treat gas is passed into said zone by at least two separate gas injection means vertically spaced apart along said zone, each upstream of a monolithic catalyst body.
24. A process according to claim 23 wherein solid particles are also removed from said slurry, before said slurry liquid contacts said hydroisomerization catalyst and wherein said gas bubbles and particulate solids are removed from said slurry by gas bubble and solids removing means immersed in said slurry body.
25. A process according to claim 24 wherein a static mixing means is located in at least a portion of said spaces between said catalyst bodies.
26. A process according to claim 25 wherein at least a portion of slurry liquid produced in said reactor and hydroisomerized is passed to at least one upgrading operation.
27. A process according to claim 26 wherein said upgrading comprises fractionation and/or one or more conversion operations.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The invention relates to a slurry hydrocarbon synthesis process which includes liquid isomerization in an external downcomer reaction loop. More particularly the invention relates to a slurry Fischer-Tropsch type of hydrocarbon synthesis process, in which the synthesized hydrocarbon slurry liquid in the synthesis reactor is circulated through at least one external downcomer reactor, in which it reacts with hydrogen in the presence of a hydroisomerization catalyst, and preferably a monolithic catalyst, to hydroisomerize the liquid and reduce its pour point. The liquid then passes back into the synthesis reactor.

[0003] 2. Background of the Invention

[0004] The slurry Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis process is now well known and documented, both in patents and in the technical literature. This process comprises passing a synthesis gas, which comprises a mixture of H2 and CO, up into a hot reactive slurry in a hydrocarbon synthesis reactor. The slurry comprises synthesized hydrocarbons which are liquid at the synthesis reaction conditions and in which is dispersed a particulate Fischer-Tropsch type of catalyst. The H2 and CO react in the presence of the catalyst and form hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbon liquid is continuously or intermittently withdrawn from the reactor and pipelined to one or more downstream upgrading operations. The upgraded products may include, for example, a syncrude, various fuels and lubricating oil fractions and wax. The downstream upgrading includes fractionation and conversion operations, typically comprising hydroisomerization, in which a portion of the molecular structure of at least some the hydrocarbon molecules is changed. It would be an improvement if the synthesized hydrocarbon slurry liquid could be hydroisomerized to reduce its pour and melt points, which make it more transportable by pipeline, before it is transferred to downstream operations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The invention relates to a slurry Fischer-Tropsch type of hydrocarbon synthesis process, in which a portion of the synthesized hydrocarbon slurry liquid is passed out of the synthesis reactor and into at least one external downcomer reactor, in which it reacts with hydrogen in the presence of a hydroisomerization catalyst, and preferably a monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst, to hydroisomerize the liquid, which is then passed back into the three-phase slurry (main slurry body) in the synthesis reactor. The slurry liquid, which comprises synthesized hydrocarbons that are liquid at the synthesis reaction conditions, comprises mostly normal paraffins and the hydroisomerization reduces its pour and melt points, thereby making it more pumpable and pipelineable. By downcomer reactor is meant that all or most of the slurry circulation between it and the synthesis reactor is achieved by density-driven hydraulics, in which the density of the downflowing slurry is greater than in the synthesis reactor. Slurry densification is achieved by removing at least a portion of the gas bubbles from the slurry, thereby densifying the slurry, before it is passed into the downcomer reactor. The one or more downflow reactors may each be a simple, substantially vertical, hollow fluid conduit or pipe. The process comprises contacting hot slurry from the main slurry body, with means for removing gas bubbles, and preferably both gas bubbles and at least a portion of the particulate solids from the slurry liquid which, along with a hydrogen treat gas, is then passed out of the synthesis reactor and down into the one or more external downcomer reactors. The hydroisomerization catalyst is located in the interior of the downcomer reactor and comprises the hydroisomerization reaction zone. This hydroisomerized hydrocarbon liquid of reduced pour point is then passed back into the main slurry body in the synthesis reactor. Thus, the synthesized hydrocarbon liquid is passed out of the synthesis reactor, down into and through the interior of the one or more external downcomer reactors and back into the synthesis reactor. The downcomer reactor is in fluid communication with the main slurry body inside the synthesis reactor, via upper and lower conduit portions opening into respective upper and lower portions of the synthesis reactor. This enables hydroisomerization of the slurry liquid (i) in an external reaction loop which depends from, and is therefore part of, the synthesis reactor and (ii) while the synthesis reactor is producing hydrocarbons, but without interfering with the hydrocarbon synthesis reaction. The concentration of hydroisomerized hydrocarbon liquid in the synthesis reactor continues to increase until equilibrium conditions are reached. When the reactor reaches equilibrium, it is possible for the slurry liquid being removed from it to comprise mostly hydroisomerized hydrocarbons of reduced pour point. In some cases, no further hydroisomerization of the liquid hydrocarbon product withdrawn from the hydrocarbon synthesis reactor is necessary. Thus, the process of the invention will reduce and in some cases even eliminate the need for a separate, stand-alone hydroisomerization reactor and associated equipment, downstream of the synthesis reactor. If a downstream hydroisomerization reactor is needed, it will be smaller than it would be if the synthesized hydrocarbon liquid passed into it was not at least partially hydroisomerized. While all of the hydroisomerized hydrocarbon liquid is typically returned back into the main slurry body with which it mixes, in some embodiments a portion of the hydroisomerized liquid will be passed from the downcomer reactor directly to downstream operations.

[0006] Hydroisomerizing the slurry liquid in one or more external loops permits the use of heat exchange means associated therewith to adjust the hydroisomerization temperature to be different (e.g., higher) from that in the synthesis reactor. A higher hydroisomerization temperature enables the use of a less expensive, non-noble metal hydroisomerization catalyst. The gas bubble and preferably the slurry gas bubble and particulate solids removal means is preferably located in the main slurry body and may comprise the same or separate means. While various filtration means may be used to separate the slurry liquid from at least a portion of the catalyst and any other particles, before the slurry is passed down into the hydroisomerization zone, in the practice of the invention the use of filtration means may be avoided by using known slurry solids reducing means that do not employ filtration. Gas bubble and solids removal means suitable for use with the present invention are known and disclosed in, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,866,621 and 5,962,537, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference. Simple gas bubble removing means are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,382,748; 5,811,468 and 5,817,702, the disclosures of which are also incorporated herein by reference. Removing gas bubbles from the slurry densifies it and, if properly employed in connection with feeding the densified slurry down into and through the downcomer reactor (e.g., the slurry is densified sufficiently vertically above the external hydroisomerization zone), provides a density-difference driven hydraulic head to circulate the slurry from inside the synthesis reactor, down into and through the external downcomer reactor and back into the synthesis reactor. Removing gas bubbles from the slurry prior to hydroisomerization also reduces the CO and water vapor content of the flowing fluid, which could otherwise react with the hydroisomerization hydrogen and also adversely effect the hydroisomerization catalyst. A monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst having a minimal solid cross-sectional area perpendicular to the flow direction of the fluid, minimizes the pressure drop of the fluid flowing down and across the catalyst surface. Removing catalyst and other solid particles, such as inert heat transfer particles, from the slurry upstream of the hydroisomerization zone, reduces scouring of the monolithic catalyst and plugging of the hydroisomerization reaction zone.

[0007] In a broad sense, the process of the invention comprises a slurry Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis process, in which a portion of the hydrocarbon slurry liquid is removed from the main slurry body in the hydrocarbon synthesis reactor, reduced in gas bubble content and passed down into and through a hydroisomerization zone in a downcomer reactor external of, and in fluid communication with, the synthesis reactor, in which it reacts with hydrogen in the presence of a hydroisomerization catalyst, at reaction conditions effective to hydroisomerize at least a portion of the hydrocarbon liquid and produce a hydroisomerized hydrocarbon liquid of reduced pour point, with at least a portion of the hydroisomerized passed back into the synthesis reactor. Preferably at least a portion of both gas bubbles and particulate solids are removed from the slurry before it contacts the hydroisomerization catalyst. In a still further embodiment, the invention comprises a hydrocarbon synthesis process which includes hydroisomerizing hydrocarbon liquid produced by the synthesis reaction while the hydrocarbon liquid is being produced from a synthesis gas, the process comprising the steps of:

[0008] (a) passing a synthesis gas comprising a mixture of H2 and CO into a slurry body comprising a three-phase slurry in a slurry Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis reactor, in which the slurry comprises gas bubbles and a particulate hydrocarbon synthesis catalyst in a slurry hydrocarbon liquid;

[0009] (b) reacting the H2 and CO in the presence of the catalyst at reaction conditions effective to form hydrocarbons, a portion of which are liquid at the reaction conditions and comprise the slurry hydrocarbon liquid;

[0010] (c) contacting a portion of the slurry from the slurry body with means for removing gas bubbles, to form a densified slurry hydrocarbon liquid reduced in gas bubbles whose density is greater than that of the slurry comprising the slurry body in the synthesis reactor;

[0011] (d) passing a hydrogen treat gas and the densified hydrocarbon liquid formed in (iii) into a hydroisomerizing zone in one or more downcomer reactors external of, in fluid contact with and depending from the synthesis reactor, in which they react in the presence of a preferably monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst to form a hydrocarbon liquid of reduced pour point, and

[0012] (e) passing all or a portion of the pour point reduced liquid back into the synthesis reactor, wherein it mixes with the main slurry body therein.

[0013] While the liquid is being synthesized and hydroisomerized in the synthesis reactor, a portion is continuously or intermittently withdrawn and sent to downstream operations.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

[0014]FIG. 1 is a simple schematic flow diagram of a hydrocarbon synthesis reactor containing a hydroisomerization zone within, according to one embodiment of the invention.

[0015]FIG. 2 is a brief schematic showing static mixers in the hydroisomerization zone.

[0016] FIGS. 3(a) and 3(b) are respective top plan and a side schematic views of a monolithic catalyst body.

[0017]FIG. 4 is a plot of hexadecane conversion as a function of temperature in the presence of a monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst in a pilot plant tubular reactor.

[0018]FIG. 5 is a graph illustrating hexadecane hydroisomerization selectivity over a monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst in a pilot plant tubular reactor.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0019] The waxy slurry liquid synthesized in the hydrocarbon synthesis reactor will typically comprise 500° F.+ hydrocarbons, with most having an initial boiling point in the 650-750° F.+ range. The end boiling point will be at least 850° F., preferably at least 1050° F. and even higher (1050° F.+). This liquid also comprises mostly (more than 50 wt. %), typically more than 90%, preferably more than 95% and more preferably more than 98 wt. % paraffinic hydrocarbons, most of which are normal paraffins, and this is what is meant by “paraffinic” in the context of the invention, particularly when the hydrocarbon synthesis catalyst comprises a cobalt catalytic component. The exact boiling range, hydrocarbon composition, etc, are determined by the catalyst and process variables used for the synthesis. It has negligible amounts of sulfur and nitrogen compounds (e.g., less than 1 wppm). Slurry liquids having these properties and useful in the process of the invention have been made using a slurry Fischer-Tropsch process with a catalyst having a catalytic cobalt component. In the practice of the invention, it is preferred that the slurry Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis catalyst comprise a catalytic cobalt or iron component. It is also preferred that the synthesis reaction have a Schulz-Flory alpha of at least 0.90, as higher molecular weight hydrocarbons are preferred in most cases. The gas bubbles in the slurry comprise synthesis gas, vapor and gaseous products of the synthesis reaction, such as C1-C4 hydrocarbons, and especially methane, CO2 and water vapor. The hydroisomerization catalyst is adversely effected by water vapor. Therefore, in addition to densifying the slurry, gas bubble removal is also beneficial to the downstream hydroisomerizing catalyst. The flow rate of a gas bubble-reduced slurry down through a vertical downcomer can be substantial and a high flow rate is desired to offset the lift action of the hydrogen treat gas injected into the hydroisomerizing zone in the downcomer reactor. A high liquid flow rate prevents the hydrogen treat gas from pushing the downflowing slurry back up and out of the downcomer reactor, it also prevents the gas from rising up and out of the hydroisomerization zone, before hydroisomerization can take place. In an experiment with a 30 foot tall slurry hydrocarbon synthesis reactor, using a simple gas disengaging cup on top of a vertical downcomer pipe of the type disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,382,748, resulted in a 12 ft/sec liquid flow rate down a 3 inch downcomer pipe, from which only half of the 60 vol. % of gas bubbles had been removed.

[0020] The hydroisomerization catalyst will have a both a hydrogenation/dehydrogenation function and an acid hydrocracking function for hydroisomerizing the normal paraffinic hydrocarbons in the slurry hydrocarbon liquid. The hydrocracking functionality of the catalyst results in the conversion of some of the waxy slurry liquid to lower boiling material. The use of an external hydroisomerization reaction zone connected to the synthesis reactor, means that the hydroisomerization reaction temperature is not limited to that in the hydrocarbon synthesis reactor to the extent that an internal hydroisomerization zone is. Therefore, the hydroisomerization reaction temperature may range from 300-900° F. and preferably 550-750° F., compared to a typically 320-600° F. temperature range in the slurry hydrocarbon synthesis reactor. However, the pressure in the hydroisomerization reaction zone will be about the same as that in the hydrocarbon synthesis reactor and will typically range from 80-600 psig. The hydrogen treat gas rate will be from 500-5000 SCF/B, with a preferred range of 2000-4000 SCF/B. By hydrogen treat gas is meant all hydrogen or preferably at least about 60 vol. % hydrogen and an inert diluent gas, such as argon or methane. Excess hydrogen is employed during the hydroisomerization to insure an adequate hydrogen partial pressure and to prevent any CO remaining in the downflowing slurry from adversely effecting the hydroisomerization reaction and catalyst. he hydroisomerization catalyst comprises one or more Group VIII catalytic metal components supported on an acidic metal oxide support to give the catalyst both a hydrogenation function and an acid function for hydroisomerizing the hydrocarbons. At relatively low hydroisomerizing temperatures, such as those in a hydrocarbon synthesis reactor, the catalytic metal component may comprise a Group VIII noble metal, such as Pt or Pd, and preferably Pt. However, at the higher temperatures which can be employed with the process of the invention, it is preferred that the catalytic metal component comprise one or more less expensive non-noble Group VIII metals, such as Co, Ni and Fe, which will typically also include a Group VIB metal (e.g., Mo or W) oxide promoter. The catalyst may also have a Group IB metal, such as copper, as a hydrogenolysis suppressant. The Groups referred to herein refer to Groups as found in the Sargent-Welch Periodic Table of the Elements copyrighted in 1968 by the Sargent-Welch Scientific Company. The cracking and hydrogenating activity of the catalyst is determined by its specific composition, as is known. In a preferred embodiment the catalytically active metal comprises cobalt and molybdenum. The acidic oxide support or carrier may include silica, alumina, silica-alumina, silica-alumina-phosphates, titania, zirconia, vanadia, and other Group II, IV, V or VI oxides, as well as Y sieves, such as ultra stable Y sieves. Preferred supports include silica, alumina and silica-alumina and, more preferably silica-alumina in which the silica concentration in the bulk support (as opposed to surface silica) is less than about 50 wt. %, preferably less than 35 wt. % and more preferably 15-30 wt. %. As is known, if the support is alumina, small amounts of fluorine or chlorine are often be incorporated into it to increase the acid functionality. However, in the process of the invention, the use of halogens in the catalyst is to be avoided, to prevent impairing the hydrocarbon synthesis catalyst.

[0021] Hydroisomerization can be enhanced by using noble metal containing catalysts in at least one hydroisomerization zone within the downcomer reactor and non-noble metal containing catalysts in at least one other hydroisomerization zone within the downcomer reactor.

[0022] A hydroisomerization catalyst that is particularly preferred in the practice of the invention comprises both cobalt and molybdenum catalytic components supported on an amorphous, low silica alumina-silica support, and most preferably one in which the cobalt component is deposited on the support and calcined before the molybdenum component is added. This catalyst will contain from 10-20 wt. % MoO3 and 2-5 wt. % CoO on an amorphous alumina-silica support in which the silica content ranges from 20-30 wt. % of the support. This catalyst has been found to have good selectivity retention and resistance to deactivation by oxygenates typically found in Fischer-Tropsch produced waxy feeds. The addition of a copper component suppresses hydrogenolysis. The preparation of this catalyst is disclosed in, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,757, 920 and 5,750,819, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.

[0023] Monolithic catalysts are known for automotive exhausts and for chemical reactions as is shown, for example, in an article by Crynes, et al., “Monolithic Froth Reactor: Development of a novel three-Phase Catalytic System”, AIChE 1, v. 41, n. 2, p. 337-345 (February 1995). A corrugated type of monolithic catalyst has even been suggested for Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis (GB 2,322,633 A). Basically monolithic catalysts comprise a ceramic or metal support structure of a desired shape, with a catalyst applied to its surface. The monolith may be a metal foam or may be prepared from the catalyst composition itself or from the catalyst support, e.g., molecular sieves, with the catalytic metal(s) deposited onto the monolith support. In this latter case, monolith attrition will still leave catalyst available for the hydroisomerization reaction. Preferred channel sizes for monoliths are in the range >300 μm and less than 600 μm. Very high strength monolithic catalysts may be fabricated from a metal foundation, over which is applied a suitable ceramic and then the catalyst. The catalytic material may be a finished catalyst which has been ground to a small particle size, slurried in an appropriate liquid, such as water or an organic liquid, with the slurry then applied to the monolithic support surface as a wash coat and calcined. It is also possible to apply one or more applications of catalytic precursor materials to the ceramic support by impregnation or incipient wetness, followed by drying and calcining. In the practice of the invention, a monolithic catalyst having a minimal solid cross-sectional area perpendicular to the fluid flow direction is preferred, to minimize the pressure drop of the fluid flowing across the catalytic surface. Such catalysts will not be limited to containing substantially longitudinal and parallel fluid flow channels. However, since pressure drop across the catalyst is important, this must be taken into consideration. Micron size channel openings or openings on the order of a few microns will not be large enough for this application but openings generally exceeding 300 microns would be acceptable. Suitable catalyst shapes for providing a low pressure drop include an open cell foam structure, and configurations having a low cross-sectional area perpendicular to the fluid flow direction may also be used. Such shapes will include, for example, elongated star shapes, with and without an outer peripheral wall, corrugated constructions, with longitudinal channels parallel to the fluid flow direction, a honeycomb containing a plurality of open-ended flow channels substantially parallel to the fluid flow direction and the like. Many of these shapes may be extruded from a preceramic paste, dried and then fired to the green or fully fired to the final state, to provide the foundation for the catalyst material. Still further, all or some of the monolithic catalysts used in the hydroisomerization zone may be shaped in the form of a low pressure drop static mixer, such as a Kenics® static mixer in the form of slightly twisted or spiral-shaped metal strips. A monolithic catalyst having this shape may be prepared by applying a ceramic over a twisted metal strip and then applying or forming the catalyst on the ceramic. The advantage of this is to provide more intimate mixing of hydrogen and liquid and to prevent stratification of the gas and liquid flows as they flow down through the hydroisomerizing zone.

[0024] In the practice of the invention, the hydroisomerization zone in the downcomer reactor will preferably comprise a plurality of monoliths vertically arrayed on top of each other in the hydroisomerization zone. For example, in the case of a vertical, elongated and substantially vertical downcomer conduit, a plurality of cylindrical monoliths may be vertically arranged or arrayed along the vertical axis inside the downcomer conduit to form the hyroisomerization zone. The cross-sectional area of the catalyst monoliths perpendicular to the direction of fluid flow will typically proximate that of the interior of the conduit. It is preferred that there be vertical spaces between at least some of the monoliths, to prevent stratification of the gas and liquid as they flown down through the zone. More preferably, a low pressure drop static mixer, such as a Kenics® static mixer will be placed in the space between at least some of the arrays, to insure adequate mixing and remixing of the hydrogen treat gas and slurry liquid, as they flow down through the zone. Some or all of the catalyst monoliths themselves may be in the form of a low pressure drop static mixer, to insure good mixing and low pressure drop. It is preferred to inject the hydrogen or hydrogen treat gas into the hydroisomerization zone via a plurality of gas injection means, vertically spaced apart along the hydroisomerization zone. This will help to reduce the lifting action of the gas and stratification, as well as insuring good mixing of the downflowing fluid and the hydrogen. It is more preferred that the hydrogen be injected into such spaces upstream of one or more low pressure drop static mixers in the hydroisomerization zone, to mix the injected gas into the downflowing liquid at each gas injection point. The invention will be further understood with reference to the Figures.

[0025] Referring to FIG. 1, a slurry hydrocarbon synthesis reactor 10 is shown as comprising a cylindrical vessel 12 with a synthesis gas feed line 14 at the bottom and a gas product line 16 at the top. A synthesis gas comprising a mixture of H2 and CO is introduced into the plenum space 22 at the bottom of the vessel via feed line 14 and then injected up through a gas injection means briefly illustrated by dashed line 18, and into the slurry body 20, which is a three-phase slurry comprising bubbles of the uprising synthesis gas, and gas and vapor products of the synthesis reaction, along with solid particles of a Fischer-Tropsch catalyst in a hydrocarbon slurry liquid which comprises synthesized hydrocarbons that are liquid at the temperature and pressure in the reactor. Suitable gas injection means comprises a plurality of gas injectors horizontally arrayed across and extending through an otherwise gas and liquid impermeable, horizontal tray or plate, as is disclosed for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,908,094 the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. The H2 and CO in the slurry react in the presence of the particulate catalyst to form predominantly paraffinic hydrocarbons, most of which are liquid at the reaction conditions, particularly when the catalyst includes a catalytic cobalt component. Unreacted synthesis gas and gas products of the hydrocarbon synthesis reaction rise up and out the top of the slurry and into the gas collection space 24 in the top of the reactor, from where they are removed from the hydrocarbon synthesis reactor as tail gas, via line 16. A filter means immersed in the slurry, which is simply indicated by box 26, separates the hydrocarbon liquids in the reactor from the catalyst particles and passes the synthesized and hydroisomerized hydrocarbon liquid out of the reactor via line 28. Filter 26 may be fabricated of sintered metal, wound wire and the like to separate the liquid product from the particulate solids in the slurry, and the hydroisomerized slurry liquid removed via line 28 is typically sent to further processing or sold as a highly refined syncrude of reduced pour point. Not shown is means for overhead removal and replacement of the filter. An external reactor loop 30 is shown as a hollow liquid conduit comprising a vertical downcomer 32, with its slurry entrance and exit conduits 34 and 35 in open fluid communication with the three-phase slurry 20 inside the synthesis reactor, as shown. While only one such hydroisomerization loop is shown for convenience, a plurality of such loops may be employed. The fluid entrance to conduit 34 comprises a gas disengaging means 36, in the form of an upwardly opening cup, which opens upward near to the top of the slurry body 20. This could be a simple gas bubble disengaging cup as is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,382,748. Means 36 is wholly immersed in the slurry and is located in the upper portion of the slurry, to maximize the hydraulic head of the gas bubble reduced slurry entering into 34 and also because the catalyst concentration in the slurry 20 is typically lowest at the top. While only a simple gas bubble removing means is illustrated for the sake of simplicity, it is preferred that a means be employed which removes both gas bubbles and particulate solids, either proximate to or comprising the fluid entrance to conduit 34. Conduit 34 is shown as comprising a downwardly angled downcomer and, when combined with a gas bubble and/or gas bubble removing means such as 36, is similar to those disclosed in the '748, '621 and '537 patents, except for the off-vertical angle. While only a simple degassing means is illustrated for the sake of simplicity, it is preferred that the means 36 both degas and reduce the solids content of the slurry, before it passes down through 34 and into 38. Simple gas, and preferably gas and solids disengaging means, such as those disclosed in the '621 and '537 patents referred to above are preferred to means such as conventional filters, magnetic or centrifugal solids separating means, because they do not require pumps or expensive equipment. They also provide a density-difference hydraulic head to circulate the slurry from the synthesis reactor down into and out of hydroisomerization loop 30. The gas reduced, and preferably the gas and solids reduced slurry formed in means 36, passes down through conduit 34 and through a heat exchanger shown as box 38, in which it is either cooled or heated (more typically heated) by indirect heat exchange means. The use of heat exchange means to heat or cool the hydrocarbon liquid for hydroisomerization is optional, and depends on the hydroisomerization catalyst, and the temperature and pressure of the slurry in the synthesis reactor, relative to the desired temperature for the hydroisomerization. Not shown is another heat exchanger between the hydroisomerization zone and the fluid exit 46 of the downcomer, to heat or cool the hydroisomerized slurry, if necessary, as the hydroisomerized hydrocarbon liquid exits the downcomer and passes, via conduit 35 into the synthesis reactor and enters the main slurry body 20, with which it mixes. The interior of the vertical portion 32 of loop 30 comprises the hydroisomerization zone and contains one or more sections comprising one or more monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst sections 40. Typically and preferably, the hydroisomerization zone comprises a plurality of monolithic catalyst sections 40, each comprising one or more discrete bodies and each vertically spaced apart to permit the hydroisomerization hydrogen gas injected upstream of each stage, to mix with the downflowing liquid prior to contact with the downstream catalyst section. The hydrogen treat gas is injected into the hydroisomerization zone by a plurality of gas injection lines 42. This multiple injection of the hydrogen treat gas provides more efficient and thorough mixing of the hydrogen with the downflowing liquid, before each of the five hydroisomerization section stages or zones shown, reduces gas/liquid stratification and also reduces the lifting effect of the injected gas, which tends to oppose the hydraulic circulation between the external loop 30 and the synthesis reactor 10, to be less than would be encountered if all of the hydrogen was injected into the downcomer at one point. During the hydroisomerization, a portion of the hydrogen is consumed. Thus, multiple hydrogen injection points vertically spaced apart along the vertical axis of the hydroisomerization zone minimizes the lifting effect of the gas and provides more efficient mixing of the gas and liquid. Not shown in FIG. 1 is a low pressure drop static mixer, such as a Kenics® static mixer which comprises twisted strips of sheet metal, located in the vertical space between each catalyst section. One or more such static mixers is located downstream of each hydrogen injection point and upstream of the next, successive catalyst section, to mix and remix the hydrogen gas with the downflowing slurry before it enters the next catalyst section. The extent of the hydrocarbon liquid hydroisomerization per pass through the loop, will vary with the type of catalyst, the amount of catalytic surface area, reaction conditions, hydrogen gas and hydrocarbon liquid flow rate, the amount of residual water and CO, if any, remaining in the liquid, the concentration of normal paraffinic components in the hydrocarbon liquid, etc. The hydrocarbon liquid flowing out of the hydroisomerization reaction zone comprises a mixture of normal paraffins and hydroisomerized components of reduced pour point. These flow down into the synthesis reactor via conduit 35 and mix with the slurry in it. If desired, a portion of this mixture may be withdrawn from the external loop as hydroisomerized synthesis reactor product liquid, by means not shown, with the remainder passing back into the synthesis reactor. A simple baffle plate 44, proximate the fluid exit end 46 of exit conduit 35, prevents bubbles of synthesis gas and synthesis reaction water from entering into the external loop. If desired, another simple baffle 48, may be placed above baffle 44, to impart a horizontal flow component shown by the arrow, to the liquid mixture entering the synthesis reactor from loop 30. That is, baffle 44, in addition to preventing gas bubbles from entering up into loop 30, may impart an upward flow component to the liquid, which then is redirected more horizontally by baffle plate 48, for more thorough and efficient fluid mixing, nearer to the bottom of the synthesis reactor. Also, the hydroisomerized liquid will have bubbles of gas in it which will make it tend to rise, irrespective of baffle 44. A space is left between the end of baffle 44 and the interior wall of the synthesis reactor, to permit any disengaged catalyst particles to fall down into the main slurry body, in which the uprising synthesis gas feed redisperses them in the slurry liquid. Also shown in synthesis reactor 10 is a gas bubble disengaging downcomer 50 having an upwardly opening gas disengaging cup 52 at the top immersed in the slurry. This is similar to that disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,382,748 which is intended to produce a more uniform catalyst particle distribution between the top and bottom of the slurry 20. A plurality of such downcomers may be employed. A plurality of hydroisomerization loops may be circumferentially arranged around the exterior of synthesis reactor, laterally spaced apart from the outer wall of the synthesis reactor and from each other. Not shown in the synthesis reactor are heat exchange means for removing some of the heat of the exothermic hydrocarbon synthesis reaction, in order to maintain the reactor temperature at the desired synthesis reaction temperature. Also not shown is means, such as a rod and a catalyst removal port above the hydroisomerization zone, for removing and replacing the monolithic catalyst

[0026]FIG. 2 is a brief schematic side view of a portion of the hydroisomerizing zone containing two monolithic catalyst bodies 40, with a very low pressure drop static mixer 90, just upstream of each monolith. Hydrogen or a hydrogen treat gas is injected into a space 41, above each monolith, via lines 42 above each static mixer, for insuring intimate mixing of the hydrogen and downflowing liquid, with the mixture then passed into the monolithic catalyst below. Only two monolithic bodies and static mixers are shown, for the sake of convenience. While each of the monolithic catalyst bodies is illustrated as a single body, each could, and typically will be made up of a plurality of bodies stacked on top of each other. The static mixers also reduce stratification of the downflowing gas and liquid mixture. Thus, even if hydrogen was not introduced above each static mixer, the static mixer will reestablish an intimate gas and liquid mixture, before it is passed through the monolithic catalyst body below. FIGS. 4(a) and 4(b) are a top plan view and a side schematic view of a monolithic catalyst body form suitable for use with the invention, which comprises a hexagonal close packed honeycomb 92. A plurality of vertical, hexagonal channels 94 extend down through the monolith, each of an equivalent diameter of about ½ inch. The outer, circumferential periphery 96 of the monolith is fluted to increase the outer catalytic surface area. Hexagonal close packing maximizes the area to mass ratio. However, there are many other shapes that can be used.

[0027] It is known that in a Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis process, liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon products are formed by contacting a synthesis gas comprising a mixture of H2 and CO with a Fischer-Tropsch catalyst, in which the H2 and CO react to form hydrocarbons under shifting or non-shifting conditions and preferably under non-shifting conditions in which little or no water gas shift reaction occurs, particularly when the catalytic metal comprises Co, Ru or mixture thereof Suitable Fischer-Tropsch reaction types of catalyst comprise, for example, one or more Group VIII catalytic metals such as Fe, Ni, Co, and Ru. In one embodiment the catalyst comprises catalytically effective amounts of Co and one or more of Ru, Fe, Nit Th, Zr, Hf, U, Mg and La on a suitable inorganic support material, preferably one which comprises one or more refractory metal oxides. Preferred supports for Co containing catalysts comprise titania, particularly when employing a slurry hydrocarbon synthesis process in which higher molecular weight, primarily paraffinic liquid hydrocarbon products are desired. Useful catalysts and their preparation are known and illustrative, but nonlimiting examples may be found, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,568,663; 4,663,305; 4,542,122; 4,621,072 and 5,545,674. Fixed bed, fluid bed and slurry hydrocarbon synthesis processes are well known and documented in the literature. In all of these processes the synthesis gas is reacted in the presence of a suitable Fischer-Tropsch type of hydrocarbon synthesis catalyst, at reaction conditions effective to form hydrocarbons. Some of these hydrocarbons will be liquid, some solid (e.g., wax) and some gas at standard room temperature conditions of temperature and pressure of 25° C. and one atmosphere, particularly if a catalyst having a catalytic cobalt component is used. Slurry Fischer-Tropsch hydrocarbon synthesis processes are often preferred because they are able to produce relatively high molecular weight paraffinic hydrocarbons when using a catalyst having a catalytic cobalt component. In a slurry hydrocarbon synthesis process and preferably one conducted under nonshifting conditions, which is used in the practice of the invention, a synthesis gas comprising a mixture of H2 and CO is bubbled up into a slurry in the hydrocarbon synthesis reactor. The slurry comprises a particulate Fischer-Tropsch type hydrocarbon synthesis catalyst in a hydrocarbon slurry liquid comprising hydrocarbon products of the synthesis reaction which are liquid at the reaction conditions. The mole ratio of the hydrogen to the carbon monoxide may broadly range from about 0.5 to 4, but is more typically within the range of from about 0.7 to 2.75 and preferably from about 0.7 to 2.5. The stoichiometric mole ratio for a Fischer-Tropsch reaction is 2.0, but in the practice of the present invention it may be increased to obtain the amount of hydrogen desired from the synthesis gas for other than the hydrocarbon synthesis reaction. In the slurry process, the mole ratio of the H2 to CO is typically about 2.1/1, particularly when using a synthesis catalyst comprising a catalytic cobalt component. Slurry hydrocarbon synthesis process conditions vary somewhat depending on the catalyst and desired products. Typical conditions effective to form hydrocarbons comprising mostly C5+ paraffins, (e.g., C5+-C200) and preferably C10+ paraffins in a slurry process employing a catalyst comprising a supported cobalt component include, for example, temperatures, pressures and hourly gas space velocities in the range of from about 320-600° F., 80-600 psi and 100-40,000 V/hr/V, expressed as standard volumes of the gaseous CO and H2 mixture (60° F., 1 atm) per hour per volume of catalyst, respectively.

[0028] The hydrocarbons which are liquid at the synthesis reaction conditions and which comprise the slurry liquid which is hydroisomerized by the practice of the invention, are typically fractionated, with one or more of the resulting fractions receiving one or more additional conversion operations. By conversion is meant one or more operations in which the molecular structure of at least a portion of the hydrocarbon is changed and includes both noncatalytic processing (e.g., steam cracking), and catalytic processing in which a fraction is contacted with a suitable catalyst, with or without the presence of hydrogen or other coreactants. If hydrogen is present as a reactant, such process steps are typically referred to as hydroconversion and include, for example, further hydroisomerization, hydrocracking, hydrorefining and the more severe hydrorefining referred to as hydrotreating. Illustrative, but nonlimiting examples of suitable products formed by upgrading include one or more of a synthetic crude oil, liquid fuel, olefins, solvents, lubricating, industrial or medicinal oil, waxy hydrocarbons, nitrogen and oxygen containing compounds, and the like. Liquid fuel includes one or more of motor gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and kerosene, while lubricating oil includes, for example, automotive, jet, turbine and metal working oils. Industrial oil includes well drilling fluids, agricultural oils, heat transfer fluids and the like.

[0029] The invention will be further understood with reference to the Examples below.

EXAMPLES Example 1

[0030] Four bifunctional monolithic hydroisomerization catalysts, each consisting of an acidic cracking component and a hydrogenation/dehydrogenation metal component, were prepared using cylindrically shaped and commercially available, open cell alpha alumina foam as the monolith support. The alumina foam cylinders were each 0.5 inches in diameter and 1 inch long. Two different cell sizes were used, one having 20 pores per inch (ppi) and the other having 65 ppi. The average pore sizes were about 1000 μm and 300 μm. Two different zeolites were used as the acidic components, to make two different hydroisomerization catalysts. These zeolites were LZY-82 and zeolite beta. Each zeolite was first impregnated with 0.5 wt. % Pt using standard incipient wetness techniques, dried, and calcined at 400° C. for 4 hours. The zeolite materials were slurried in water/acetic acid (5%) and then applied onto the alpha alumina foam as washcoats using multiple dips followed by calcination (600° C. for 2 hours). The four finished monolithic catalysts are summarized in Table 1.

TABLE 1
Catalyst Monolith Volume Average Loading
Description in.3 g/in.3
Pt/beta (20 ppi) 0.196 1.82
Pt/beta (65 ppi) 0.196 1.78
Pt/LZY-82 (20 ppi) 0.196 1.35
Pt/LZY-82 (65 ppi) 0.196 1.67

Example 2

[0031] These four catalysts were evaluated for their hydroconversion effectiveness for heavy, waxy, paraffinic hydrocarbons using hexadecane (n-C16H38) as a representative feed for a Fischer-Tropsch synthesized hydrocarbon liquid. The hydroconversion runs were carried out in a small, up-flow pilot plant running at a hydrogen pressure and nominal treat rate of 750 psig and 2500 SCF/B with weight hourly space velocity (WHSV) ranging from 2.3 to 3.1. The degree of conversion was varied by adjusting the temperature from 400-550° F. Each reactor was charged with 5 of the cylindrical catalytic monoliths in series with alpha alumina foams of similar ppi rating and at the front and back of the reaction zone. The reactor conditions for each run are summarized in Table 2.

TABLE 2
Feedstock Hexadecane Hexadecane Hexadecane Hexadecane
Catalyst 0.5 wt. % 0.5 wt. % 0.5 wt. % 0.5 wt. %
Description Pt/Beta (20 Pt/Beta (65 Pt/LZY (20 Pt/LZY
ppi) ppi) ppi) (20 ppi)
Conditions
WHSV, g/hr/g 2.3 2.4 3.1 2.5
Temp., ° F. 400-500
H2 rate, SCF 2500
Feed, grs/hr 4.1

[0032] The results of the runs are shown in FIGS. 3 and 4. FIG. 3 is a plot of hexadecane conversion as a function of temperature, using the Pt/Beta catalysts. FIG. 4 is a plot of the selectivity of the hexadecane conversion to C16 isoparaffins, determined by gas chromatography, as a function of the reactor temperature for the Pt/Beta catalysts. The results for the Pt/LZY-82 catalysts are not shown, because this catalyst was essentially inactive, even at the relatively high temperature of 550° F. The results for the Pt/Beta catalysts shown in FIG. 4 clearly demonstrate the conversion of the hexadecane to isoparaffin. While the cracking activity of the catalysts was greater than desired, the results nevertheless demonstrate the efficacy of hydroisomerizing n-paraffins to isoparaffins, using a monolithic hydroisomerization catalyst.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7534340 *Jun 28, 2004May 19, 2009Eni S.P.A.Fischer-Tropsch type synthesis from hydrogen and carbon monoxide; hydrcracking catalysts; distillation; dehydrogenation; hydroisomerization
Classifications
U.S. Classification585/734, 518/702, 585/921, 585/922
International ClassificationC10G45/66, B01J8/22, C10G45/60, B01J8/00, C10G45/62, C10G69/02, C10G2/00, C10K3/04
Cooperative ClassificationY10S208/95, C10G2/32, B01J8/226, C10K3/04, B01J8/006, B01J8/228, C10G45/66
European ClassificationC10G2/32, C10G45/66, B01J8/00J4, B01J8/22D2, B01J8/22D4, C10K3/04
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