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Publication numberUS3905893 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateSep 16, 1975
Filing dateAug 22, 1973
Priority dateAug 22, 1973
Publication numberUS 3905893 A, US 3905893A, US-A-3905893, US3905893 A, US3905893A
InventorsRobert D Christman, Alfred M Henke, John A Paraskos, Geoffrey R Wilson, Stephen J Yanik
Original AssigneeGulf Research Development Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Plural stage residue hydrodesulfurization process
US 3905893 A
Abstract
A multiple stage process is described for the catalytic hydrodesulfurization and hydrodemetallization of a residual petroleum oil boiling above the gasoline range. The product of the process comprises essentially material boiling above the gasoline range and comprises little material boiling below the initial boiling point of the residual oil feed. The hydrodesulfurization-demetallization process comprises an initial stage involving relatively high hydrogen pressure in the presence of a catalyst comprising a relatively low proportion of catalytically active hydrogenation metals. The process employs a final stage in series having a relatively lower hydrogen pressure and a catalyst comprising a relatively higher proportion of hydrogenation metals. The stream entering the final stage contains an amount up to 10, 20 or even 25 weight percent of the asphaltene content of the charge to the first stage while the effluent from the final stage is essentially free of asphaltenes.
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United States Patent Christman et al.

PLURAL STAGE RESlDUE HYDRODESULFURIZATION PROCESS lnventors: Robert D. Christman, Pittsburgh;

Alfred M. l-lenke, Springdale; John A. Paraskos, Pittsburgh; Geoffrey R. Wilson, Pittsburgh; Stephen J. Yanik, Gibsonia, all of Pa'.

Gulf Research & Development Company, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Aug. 22, 1973 [73] Assignee:

[22] Filed:

[21] Appl. No.: 390,362

US. Cl. 208/210; 208/58; 208/216 [51] C10G 34/00 [58] Field of Search 208/59, 89, 210, 213

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,902,429 9/1959 Scott 208/89 3,155,608 11/1964 Hopper et a1. 208/89 X 3,349,027 10/1967 Carr et al 208/210 3,362,901 1/1968 Szepe et a1 208/89 X 3,477,943 1 H1969 Masologites et al. 208/89 3,682,813 8/1972 Dun et a1. 208/59 3,732,155 5/1973 Cecil et a1 v 208/210 3,761,399 9/1973 Kinney et a1 208/210 3,809,644 5/1974 Johnson et al 208/210 3,817,855 6/1974 Smith et a1 208/89 3,830,728 8/1974 Mounce 208/59 3,859,199 1/1975 Gatsis 208/97 Primary Examiner-Delbert E. Gantz Assistant Examiner.lames W. Hellwege [5 7] ABSTRACT A multiple stage process is described for the catalytic hydrodesulfurization and hydrodemetallization of a residual petroleum oil boiling above the gasoline range. The product of the process comprises essentially material boiling above the gasoline range and comprises little material boiling below the initial boiling point of the residual oil feed. The hydrodesulfurization-demetallization process comprises an initial stage involving relatively high hydrogen pressure in the presence of a catalyst comprising a relatively low proportion of catalytically active hydrogenation metals. The process employs a final stage in series having a relatively lower hydrogen pressure and a catalyst comprising a relatively higher proportion of hydrogenation metals. The stream entering the final stage contains an amount up to 10, 20 or even 25 weight percent of the asphaltene content of the charge to the first stage while the effluent from the final stage is essentially free of asphaltenes.

6 Claims, 13 Drawing Figures PATENIH] SEPI 8 I975 SIIEEI 1 III 9 FIGURE I EFFECT OF HYDROGEN PRESSURE ON DEMETALLIZATION WITH UNAGED CATALYST cm I p si

cm I

600 800 I000 I200 I400 I600 I800 2000 2200 2300 (28Kg/ (42Kg/ (seKq/ (YOKg/ (84Kg/ cm cm cm 2 CIT!) 2 O I L O O 95395 2.5m $622: 3093 ,5 F; 2 .B uN mEm 238m .22s 5 23m Hydrogen PurIiuI Pressure:

FIGURE 5 (I I C) 20 3am 2on4 w S PSQE 6.63m wmo$ Catalyst Age, Months First Stage A 0.3% Sulfur, 6Mos. Cycle B 0.5% Sulfur, llMos. Cycle C 0.3% Sulfur, llMos. Cycle PATENTEB SEP l 6 ms SHEU [1F 9 FIGURE 6 (66.6C)|20'- 33 E g, (55.5C)l00 l :3 b (44.4 80

g 2 (33.3%) 60- m i" Hydrggen l J I l Catalyst Age, Days Second Stage FIGURE 8 Naphgm i Gas Oil (Optional; I

Recycle Gas H 8 24 Trealmenr PAIENIEI] SEP I 8 I975 SHEET 8 OF 9 FIGURE 9 T N u S a F V E E N R R O E 0 L P U W P A C R E T R S SIC? FLUE GAS 4- 94 STRIPPING STEAM RISER REACTOR 80 ESTEAM UPPER FEED INJECTION REGENERATOR AIR HEATER COMBUSTION AIR - LOWER FEED INJECTION DISPERSION STEAM PATENTED SEP I 6 I975 SHEET 7 BF 9 FIGURE I0 w ems uto ys mly (8109 l) ow eiuls Catalyst Requirements For 6 Month Cycle Life hird Stage Temperature Increase Above Base Required For O.l2Wt.% Sulfur Product-F PATENTED SEP 1 6 I975 SHEET 9 0F 9 FIGURE I3 3O (l6.8C)

20 (l l .2 C)

to 5.6C)

-ow Metals Catalyst tals Catalyst Catalyst Age- Days This invention is based upon the hydrodesulfurization of asphaltene-containingresidual petroleum oils having relatively high sulfurand metal contents. The residual oilsboil above thegasoline range and can have a boiling point of 375F.+ (l9lC.-l), 400F.+ (204C.+), 650F.+ (343C.+) or even- 1050F.+ (565C.+).

The present invention is based upon a multiple stage hydrodesulfurization process wherein the effluent from the final hydrodesulfurization stage is essentially free of asphaltenes as determined by pentane extraction and contains less than about 1, generally, or preferably less than about 0.6 ppm of nickel equivalent (nickel equivalent is equal to the ppm by weight of nickel plus 1/5 the ppm by weight of vanadium which is present). The metals content from the effluent of the final hydrodesulfurization stage is so low that the total final stage effluent without dilution can be employed as the entire stream to a fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) process em ploying a zeolite catalyst in a riser wherein the catalyst and hydrocarbon flow at about the same velocity without catalyst build-up due to catalyst slippage within the riser and without an increase in catalyst to oil ratio in the riser. In the FCC process the buildup of nickel and vanadium on the zeolite catalyst is'so low when charging undiluted hydrodesulfurization effluent that the zeolite catalyst make-up rate is no more than about 0.2 pounds of zeolite catalyst per barrel of feed (57] g/m) to the FCC riser. This zeolite catalyst make-up rate level is no higher than the normally required zeolite catalyst make-up rate in an FCC riser operation employing a distillate gas oil as the entire feed stream. Of

course. the total hydrodesulfurization effluent can be blended with other streams prior to FCC.

If desired, the present invention can be employed for desulfurization of a full crude oil in the same unit or in separate units. For example, a 65()F.+ (343C.+) metals containing residual oil can be hydrodesulfurized in a first unit according to thepresent invention while the lighter distillate or a portion thereof can be hydrodesulfurized separately without theproblems of metals contamination and high catalyst deactivation. Thereupon, the desulfurized distillate or a portion thereof and the dcsulfurized residuum can be rcblended to provide a total desulfurized crude for use as a fuel oil or to provide a blended residual and distillate oil low in sulfur and boiling above the gasoline range for feeding to an FCC unit. If a full crude is charged to a single unit, the gasoline in the effluent is removed-by distillation and utilized without cracking.

If is a characteristic of the present operation that the hydrodesulfurization process performs very little hydrocracking of feed oil boiling above the gasoline range, i.e. above about 375F. (l9lC.) or 4()()F. (204C) to gasoline or lighter materials, i.e. to materials boiling below 375F. (191C) or 400F. (204C). This is an important feature of the presentprocess since cracking of feed oil in the hydrodesulfurization operation involves the consumption of hydrogen which is wasteful, whereas, if cracking is deferred until the stream reaches the FCC unit. gasoline is produced without consumption of hydrogen and without addition of extraneous hydrogen to the FCC unit. Furthermore, gasoline produced in the FCC unit without added hydrogen has a higher octane value than gasoline produced by cracking in the presence of added hydrogen. Therefore, the function of the hydrodesulfurization unit is confined to the removal of sulfur, metals and asphaltenes rather than the production of gasoline and the function of the FCC unit is confined predominantly to the production of gasoline and also to low-sulfur fuel oil with a greater gasoline selectivity based on feed than if a distillate gas oil feed only were charged to FCC, although the zeolite catalyst to feed ratio requirement in the FCC riser is not increased to obtain this greater gasoline selectivity in spite of the fact that the entire bottoms portion is'being processed in the FCC riser.

While hydrogen is charged to the hydrodesulfurization process, no hydrogen is charged to the FCC process. The hydrodesulfurization process is essentially free of hydrocracking of feed components boiling above the gasoline range feed to material boiling within or below the gasoline range feed. In the hydrodesulfurization process not more than 20 percent, generally, of feed components boiling above the gasoline range, or preferably, not more than ll) percent, and most preferably, not more than 2 to 5 percent of feed components to the hydrodesulfurization process boiling above the gasoline range are converted to gasoline range or lighter materials. The hydrodesulfurization process is so free of hydrocracking to lighter materials that when charging atmospheric tower bottoms, i.e. 650F.+ (343C.+) residue, not more than 25 or 35 percent of this feed will be converted to material boiling below 650F. (343C) and preferably not more than 20 or 30 percent of this feed will be converted to material boiling below 650F. (343C) It is therefore seen that the hydrodesulfurization process is capable of hydrodesulfurization to produce an effluent wherein or percent by volume of the feed is recovered having a boiling point at least as high as the initial boiling point of the hydrodesulfurization feed oil.

In accordance with the present invention, it is shown that in the hydrodesulfurization process at start-of-run with a fresh catalyst, the weight percentage of demetallization increases generally uniformly with increases in hydrogen partial pressure. Since most of the metal content of the residual oil is generally present in the asphaltenes present in the residual oil (the residual oil comprising relatively low boiling saturates and aromatics plus higher boiling resins and asphaltenes) this means that as the hydrogen partial pressure is increased and the asphaltene content of the hydrodesulfurization effluent decreases the metals content of the residue also decreases. I

The present invention employs a hydrodesulfurization catalyst having essentially no cracking activ ity. The hydrodesulfurization catalyst comprises at least one Group VIII metal and at least one Group VI metal on an alumina support containing less than 1 weight percent silica. Preferably, the support contains less than 0.5 weight percent silica, and most preferably. the support contains as low as 0.1 weight percent silica. The support can be essentially alumina. It is important that the support be sufficiently free of silica so that the catalyst is essentially devoid of ability to hydrocrack the feed below its initial boiling point.

The present invention is based upon the surprising discovery that in hydrodesulfurization the increase in weight percent demetallization in a residue oil feed with increases in hydrogen partial pressure is a transitory phenomenon only. In accordance with this invention, the unexpected discovery is disclosed that as the catalyst ages the reverse situation rapidly occurs. That is, at the higher hydrogen partial pressures, wherein at the beginning of the run the weight percentage of demetallization is the highest, catalyst aging tends to reduce this high ratio so that the longer the catalyst ages at a high hydrogen partial pressure the greater the fall off in weight ratio of demetallization to desulfurization. Furthermore, the higher the initial hydrogen partial pressure the more rapid is the fall off in weight ratio of demetallization to desulfurization during catalyst aging.

In contrast, relatively low hydrogen partial pressures, which at start of run conditions produce a reduced weight percentage of demetallization, exhibit an increase in weight ratio of demetallization to desulfurization in the feed upon catalyst aging. Furthermore, within the hydrogen pressure limits of this invention, the lower the hydrogen partial pressure the more rapid is the increase in weight ratio of demetallization to de' sulfurization upon catalyst aging. In accordance with this invention, it is important that for optimum demetallization in the relatively low pressure stages wherein operations preferential to demetallization are desired, that the hydrogen partial pressure not be permitted to be too low because if the initial rate of demetallization is too low the increase in demetallization selectivity upon catalyst aging is unable to effectively overcome the initial disadvantage within an acceptably short catalyst aging period. Furthermore, the hydrogen partial pressure should not be so low in a hydrodesulfurization stage of this invention that excessive and continual coke build-up on the catalyst is permitted to occur which would lead to an excessively short cycle life in the catalyst. The hydrogen partial pressure can be sufficiently low to permit appreciable catalyst coke formation whereby when equilibrium is achieved the level of coke on the catalyst stabilizes so that catalyst coke is removed by hydrogenation and leaves the catalyst surface at about the same rate that new coke forms on the catalyst surface.

The present multiple stage hydrodesulfurization process requires that the initial stage have a hydrogen partial pressure which is higher than the hydrogen partial pressure of the final stage. This is in direct contrast to US. Pat. No. 3,155,608 which is aprior art hydrodesulfurization patent employing multiple stages, which disposes hydrogen recycle and fresh hydrogen streams to produce a higher hydrogen pressure in the final stage than in the initial stage. The pressure drop of this invention can be accomplished by interstage flashing, restrictive pressure drop lines and by regard to points of recycle of pressurized purified hydrogen or of introduction of fresh hydrogen. Since the hydrogen partial pressure is lower in the final stage and since excessively low hy drogen partial pressures are conducive to continual coke build-up on the catalyst, it is not only necessary that the hydrogen partial pressure in the final stage not be so low that a continual build-up of coke is permitted but also that the catalyst in the final stage have a different composition to impart a higher hydrogenation activity as compared to the catalyst in the first stage. Since the catalyst in the first stage is relatively protected against excessive coke formation and coke build-up with aging due to elevated hydrogen partial pressure and since its desulfurization rate is also assisted by relatively high hydrogen partial pressure, the first stage catalyst requires a lower Group VI and Group VIII metal content than the content of Group VI and- Group VIII metal on the catalyst in the final stage of the hydrodesulfurization process to balance the aging cycles between the stages and to avoid needlessly excessive active metals deposit on the first stage catalyst, which is economically wasteful. Furthermore, because of the low hydrogen pressure in the final stage and because of its enhanced activity due to increased metals content and therefore increased catalytic sites, the activity of the final stage catalyst must be protected in accordance with this invention against excessive aging caused by coke build-up by continuous or periodic injection of a sulfur-containing material such as hydrogen sulfide or hydrogen sulfide-producing hydrocarbon not present in the final stage feed stream to serve as a catalyst sulfiding agent in the final stage to replace loss of sulfur from the catalyst and to maintain high hydrogenation activity in the catalyst in the pres ence of relatively low hydrogen partial pressures. The particular reason that an extraneous catalyst sulfiding agent is required in the final stage is that the feed to the final stage has too low a sulfur level and the sulfur in the feed is so refractory that insufficient hydrogen sulfide is produced to maintain the catalyst at its start-ofrun or presulfided sulfur level. In contrast, in the first stage the feed is so rich in non-refractory sulfur that the hydrogen-sulfide produced in the first stage not only maintains the catalyst at its presulfided fully sulfided level, but being a reaction product it even inhibits the desulfurization rate in'the first stage if it is not removed by flashing, as explained below.

In generaLthe maximum hydrogen partial pressure to be employed in the first catalyst stage should not exceed 2300 to 2500 psi (161.0 to 175.0 Kglcm and preferably should not exceed 1900 to 2000 psi (133.0 to 140.0 Kg/cm If higher hydrogen partial pressures are employed in the first stage an economic waste will result because as the catalyst ages its initial advantage in demetallization activity is lost more rapidly at high hydrogen partialpressures than at lower hydrogen partial pressures so that the highest hydrogen partial pressure to be employed in the first hydrodesulfurization stage can be correlated with the length of the cycle so that maximum total metals removal can be achieved in the first stage considering the entire length of the catalyst cycle. In accordance with the present invention, and in order to achieve commercial utility, the catalyst cycle should be at least 5 and preferably at least 8 and more preferably at least 10 or 12 barrels of feed per pound of catalyst'(at least 0.00175 and preferably at least 0.00280 and more preferably at least 0.00350 or 0.00420 m lg). The catalyst system is balanced so that the high and low pressure hydrodesulfurization stages are capable of about the same cycle life before requiring catalyst regeneration or discard. The quantity and composition of catalyst employed in each stage is established to provide as long a cycle life as possible with a minimum total quantity of catalyst per barrel of feed. considering the catalyst in each stage. Each stage of the hydrodesulfurization process can provide a cycle life with the available catalyst of at least 4, 5 or 6 months or even at least 1 l or 12 months.

The hydrogen pressure in the final stage must be balanced so that on the one hand it is low enough that with increasing catalyst age it tends to maintain or, preferably, to increase the ratio of demetallization to desulfurization which is achieved. in the final stageas compared to the first stage and so that it providesan effluent which is essentially free of asphaltenes. At-the same time the hydrogen partialpressure in the final stage must be sufficiently high so that thereis not an excessive and continual build-up of coke on the catalyst during the run. In the final stage, because of the relatively low hydrogen partial pressure the asphaltene particles tend to remain at a catalyst site for a relatively long period of time before achieving metal or sulfur removal and accepting hydrogen in their place, whereupon the asphaltene particle leaves the catalyst site and frees the site for acceptance of another asphaltene particle to repeat the procedure. Movement of asphaltene particles to and from catalyst sites occurs more rapidly at the higher hydrogen pressure of the initial hydrodesuL' furization reactor and proceeds more slowly at the lower pressure of the final hydrodesulfurization reactor. The hydrogen partial pressure in the final hydrodesulfurization reactor should be high enough to at least achieve an equilibrium so that after an initial period of operation the buildup of asphaltene particles upon the catalyst surface stabilizes whereby hydrogenation accompanied by sulfur and metal removal from the asphaltene particle occurs atabout the same rate as acceptance of a fresh asphaltene particle at the catalyst site. In the final hydrodesulfurization reactor an asphaltene particle might have to move from one catalyst site to another before it is able to'acc'ept hydrogen and become demetallized or desulfurized or the reaction may occur at a single site whereby the asphaltene particle becomes demetallized or desulfurized and accepts hydrogen at only one catalyst site and becomes converted to either a resin, an aromatic or a saturate and leaves the catalyst making the site on the catalyst available for a fresh asphaltene molecule. However, because of the requirement for a slow reaction rate in the final stage, an increased number of catalyst sites are required, and to provide this the weight percentage of active metals in the final stage catalyst is greater than in the initial stage catalyst. The lowest pressure as well as the optimum pressure for the aforementioned functions in the final catalyst stage of this invention is at least 1300 or 1350 psi (91.0 or 94.5 Kglcm hydrogenipartialtpressure and preferably 1400 up to 1600 oreven 1700, 1800 or 1900 psi (98.0 up to 112.0 or even 119.0, 126.0 or 133.0 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure. At these pressures, upon catalyst aging an advantageous balance is reached in ratio of weight percent demetallization to weight percent desulfurization coupled with a stabilization of a'sphaltene level on the catalyst surface so that the asphaltene level on the catalyst reaches a plateau at which it is removed and replaced at about the same rate. When this occurs, the effluent from the final stag is essentially free of asphaltenes. i

The hydrogen pressures inthe initial final stages can be established in a number of ways. For example, by the hydrogen compressor pressure setting the amount of diluents in the hydrogen stream and by the amount and locale of recycle hydrogen injection into the system or by the amount and location of fresh hydrogen injection into the system. The hydrogen pressures are preferably balanced so that the length of the catalyst cycle before reaching catalyst deactivation in each of the stages is about thesame. Catalyst deactivation occurs when the average temperature in any stage must be raised from a minimum of about 650 or 690F. (343 or 365C .)to a maximum offro m about 790 or 800F. (421 or" 427C.) or even 850F. (454C) in order to stabilize at a desired constant level the sulfur content in the effluent from a reactor. The temperatures are continually or intermittently raised in each re actor during a catalyst cycle to maintain the desired constant sulfur level in the effluent. For example, the temperatures will be adjusted upwardly continually in the reactors so thatifa residlual feed containing about 4 weight percentsulfur is charged to a three reactor system of this invention, with the reactors in series, the effluent from the first reactor will contain about 1 weight percent sulfur, the effluent from the second reactor will contain about 0.2 to about 0.5 weight percent sulfurv and the effluent from the third reactor will contain about 0.05 to 0.1 weight percent sulfur. In addition, the effluent from the third reactor will contain less than 1 and preferably less than 0.6 weight percent nickel equivalent (which is the ppm of nickel plus 1/5 of the ppm of vanadium) when the feed to the first reactor contains 60 ppm of nickel plus vanadium, or more. Also, the effluent from the third reactor will be essentially free of asphaltenes, as measured by conventional means, i.e. no normal pentane insolubles will be detected in a normal pentane extraction of the effluent.

The total catalyst quantity required to achieve the hydrodesulfurization results of'this invention will be sharply minimized by employing a higher Group V1 and Group VIII metals weight level catalyst in the final stage than is employed in the catalyst in the first stage. The higher the weight percentage of Group V] and Group VIII metal in the final stage catalyst, the higher will be the hydrogenation activity, which will tend to compensate for the lower hydrogen partial pressures occurring in the final hydrodesulfurization stage. Fur thermore, it is an important feature of this invention that because the sulfur content in the feed entering the final hydrodesulfurization stageis so low and because this sulfur is so refractory, there is a dearth of sulfur in the atmosphere of the final stage resulting in a loss of sulfur from the presulfided final stage catalyst, tending to cause the final stage catalyst to deactivate more rap idly than the catalyst in any earlier stage. This loss of sulfur can result in a runaway build-up of asphaltenes upon the surface of the catalyst in the final stage due to loss of hydrogenation activity. In order to stabilize and equalize asphaltene adsorption and desorption at the surface of the catalyst in the final stage, it is necessary to provide hydrogen sulfide or other sulfiding agent not present in the oil feed .to the catalyst of the final stage so that the cycle life in the final stage is as long as the cycle life in theearlier stages, i.e. each reactor reaches its temperature limitation of about 800F. (427C.) at about the same time. We have found that the addition of a sulfiding agent to the final stage can result in a nearly flat aging curve in the final stage. The sulfur addition to the final stage can be received directly by hydrogen sulfide injection, by injection of a hydrogen sulfide producing organic material not pres exit in the feed oil or can be produced from the feed stream in an earlier and higher pressure hydrodesulfurization stage and transmittedto the final low pressure stage by passing the effluent from an earlier higher hydrogen pressure hydrodesulfurization stage containing hydrogen sulfide undiluted by fresh or make-up hydrogen to the final hydrodesulfurization stage without any flashing or hydrogen sulfide absorption step prior to the final hydrodesulfurization stage.

The catalyst in all phases comprises at least one Group VI and at least one Group VIII metal in sulfided condition, such as nickel-cobalt-molybdenum on alumina. Many metals combinations can be employed, such as a cobalt-molybdenum, nickel-tungsten and nickel-molybdenum. A non-cracking alumina support must be employed, such as an alumina containing less than 1 weight percent silica, preferably less than 0.5 weight percent silica and most preferably no more than 0.1 weight percent silica. The metals content on the catalyst is higher in the final stage than in the initial stage. Whatever, metals content is employed, the weight percent of active Group Vl-Group Vlll hydrogenation metals in the final stage is higher than in the initial stage.

The present invention is directed towards the hydrodesulfurization of a residual oil containing substantially the entire asphaltene fraction of the crude from which it is derived and which therefore contains 95 to 99 weight percent or more of the nickel and vanadium content of the full crude. The nickel, vanadium and sulfur content of the liquid charge can vary over a wide range. For example, nickel and vanadium can comprise 0.0005 to 0.05 weight percent (5 to 500 parts permillion) or more of the feed oil while sulfur can comprise about 2 to 6 weight percent or more of the charge oil.

In the hydrodesulfurization process of this invention it is the partial pressure of hydrogen rather than total reactor pressure which determines hydrodesulfurization and demetallization activity. Therefore, the hydrogen stream should be as free of other gases as possible.

The gas circulation rate can be between about 2000 and 20,000 standard cubic feet per barrel (between about 36.0 and 360.0 SCM/IOOL), generally, or preferably about 3000 to 10,000 standard cubic feet per barrel of gas (54.0 to 180.0 SCM/l00L), and preferably contains 80 percent or more of hydrogen. The mol ratio of hydrogen to oil can be between 8:1 and 80:1. Reactor temperatures can range between about 650 and 900F. (343 and 482C.), generally, and between about 680 and 800F. (360 and 427C. preferably. The temperature should be low enough so that not more than about 10, or percent of a 650F. (343C.+) residual oil charge will be cracked to furnace oil or lighter. At reactor outlet temperatures of 800 to 850F. (427 to 454C.) the steel of the reactor walls rapidly loses strength and unless reactor wall thicknesses of 7 to 10 inches (17.78 to 25.40 cm) or more are utilized. a reactor outlet temperature of about 800 to 850F. (427 to 454C.) constitutes a metallurgical limitation. The liquid hourly space velocity in each reactor of this invention based on hydrocarbon oil feed to the first stage can be between about 0.2 and 10. generally, between about 0.3 and 3, preferably, or between about 0.5 and 1.5, most preferably. 0

The catalyst employed in the process, as stated above, comprises sulfided Group V1 and Group VIII metals on a support, such as sulfided nickel-cobaltmolybdenum or cobalt-molybdenum on alumina. Hydrodesulfurization catalyst compositions suitable for use in the present invention are described in US. Pat. No. 2,880,171 and also in US. Pat. N0. 3,383,301. However, an advantageous feature of the catalyst particles of the present invention is that the smallest diameter of theseparticles is broadly between about 1/20 and 1/40 or l/-inch (0.127 and 0.0635 or 0.051 cm), preferentially between H25 and H36 inch (0.102 and 0.071 cm), and most preferably between about H29 and 1/34 inch (0.081 and 0.075 cm). Particle sizes below the range of this invention would induce a pressure drop which is too great to make them practical. The catalyst can be prepared so that nearly all or at least about 92 or 96 percent of the particles are within this size range. The catalyst can be in any suitable configuration in which the smallest particle diameter is within this size range, such as roughly cubical, needleshaped or round granules, spheres, cylindrically-shaped extrudates, etc. By smallest particle diameter is meant the smallest surface to surface dimension through the center or axis of the catalyst particle, regardless of the shape of the particle. The cylindrical extrudate form having a length between about 1/10 and H4 inch (0.254 and 0.635 cm) is highly suitable.

It is important in this invention that the catalyst is essentially free of dehydrogenation activity to prevent formation of severely hydrogen deficient coke on the catalyst. It is to be emphasized that the hydrocarbon build-up in the final stage catalyst is not a severely hydrogen-deprived material initially but-is essentially an asphaltene or coke precursor material as received in the feed stream containing somewhat higher than the feed hydrogen to carbon ratio. Because the catalyst has not rendered the feed asphaltene hydrogen deficient, the asphaltene is capable of undergoing desulfurization and demetallization accompanied by a reception of hydrogen to convert the feed asphaltene to a more hydrogen-rich molecule such as a resin, an aromatic, or a saturate, which can then leave the catalyst site by dissolving into the main flow stream in the final reactor, thereby stabilizingthe asphaltene content on the catalyst. An indication that the catalyst support of the present invention is not a hydrocracking or coke forming (i.e. a hydrogen depriving) catalyst is illustrated by the fact that increasing hydrogen pressures with the catalyst does not result in any detectable or significant increased hydrogen consumption. Furthermore, after brief conditioning of the catalyst under the same conditions of temperature, pressure and residence time, the amount of hydrocracking experienced with the catalyst of the present invention is aboutthe same as that experienced with inert solid particles.

The various stages in series of the hydrodesulfurization process of the present invention are balanced with respect to hydrogen partial pressure, relative catalyst volume and catalyst activity in order to encourage balancing of relative metals removal in each of the stages. For example, in a three-stage operation, the quantity of asphaltenes and metals will be greatest in the first stage, intermediate in the second and smallest in the third stage. To compensate for this, the percent reduction of asphaltenes and metals in the first stage will be the lowest, will be intermediate in the second stage and will be the highest in the third stage. As an example, consider a residual feed to the hydrodesulfurization process of this invention containing about 10 weight percent asphaltenes, about 5 percent will be thermally cracked or rendered into smaller structures by the enhanced solubility in aromatics at the high hydrogen pressure of the first stage. The remaining 5 percent will he more refractory to hydrocracking than most of those in the feed. Since the first stage possesses the highest hydrogen partial pressure, whatever asphaltenes are refractory to hydrocracking in the first stage will not be thermally cracked at as great a rate in the subsequent stages since the subsequent stages are at a lower pressure. If they were not amenable to cracking at the higher pressure of the first stage they will be less amenable to hydrocracking at the lower pressures of the subsequent stages. Of the percent of the asphaltenes fed to the first stage which is refractory to hydrocracking, about 2 percent will be adsorbed on the first stage catalyst whereat it will be demetallized and/or desulfurized. This amounts to a 40 percent reduction in asphaltenes in the first stage by adsorption on the catalyst. The remaining 3 percent of asphaltenes in the feed enter the second hydrodesulfurization stage, and in the second stage, of this 3 percent, 2 percent will be adsorbed on the second stage catalyst where it will be desulfurized and/or demetallized, amounting to a 67 per cent reduction of asphaltenes by adsorption on the catalyst in the second stage. This leaves 1 percent of the total asphaltenes in the feed for entry into the third catalytic stage. In the third catalytic stage essentially the entire 1 percent is adsorbed on the catalyst and is de metallized and/or desulfurized for subsequent dissolution into the hydrodesulfurization product stream as a resin, aromatic or saturate molecule, so that the effluent stream of the third stage is essentially free of asphaltenes. Assuming that reduction in asphaltenes in the above example generally corresponds to absorption of metals on the surface of the catalyst, thereis a progressive increase from 40 percent reduction of metals in the first stage to 67 percent reduction in metals in the second stage to essentially 100 percent reduction of metals in the third stage. However, while the percent reduction in metals is increasing in each stage, the absolute quantity of metals removed is progressively diminished in the stages so that there tends to be a balance of absolute quantity of metals removal in the various reactors of the system. However, it is emphasized,

that there is a progressively smaller absolute amount of metals removal in each subsequent stage. This balance is important because while asphaltene particles reach an equilibrium so that they accumulate and are removed at about the same rate on the catalyst surface, the metals that build-up can not be removed by ordinary means during the process and they therefore contribute toward irreversible limitation of the catalyst cycle in each reactor.

Data are shown below which illustrate not only the optimum and the minimum hydrogen pressure to be employed in the final hydrodesulfurization stage (the optimum is about 1400 psi [98.0 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure) but also the optimum and maximum hydrogen partial pressure to be employed in the initial hydrodesulfurization stage. These data show that at very high pressures (2300 psi 161.0 Kg/cin hydrogen partial pressure) the asphaltene content of the catalyst was reduced but the sulfur content of the remaining asphaltenes changed very little. This indicates that the higher pressure performed a catalytic effect in hydrocracking the asphaltenes to lighter molecules without appreciable removal of metal or sulfur which require relatively extended adsorption time at a catalyst site for their occurrence. Evidently at the higher hydrogen pressure of 2300 psi [161.0 Kg/cm even the briefest contact with a catalyst site resulted in very rapid reaction thereupon the molecule became hydrogenated to a less refractory asphaltene or a nonasphaltene or became hydrocracked to smaller fragments before enough time elapsed at the catalyst site to permit removal of sulfur or metals. The same tests show that at the lower hydrogen partial pressure of 1950 psi 136.5 Kg/cm there was essentially no change in the asphaltene content in the feed oil although the sulfur content in the asphaltenes was diminished sharply. These data indicate that at the lower pressure the asphaltenes adsorbed on the catalyst site were permitted sufficient residence time for removal of metals and sulfur although the pressure was not sufficiently high to accomplish much hydrogenation to less refractory nonasphaltenic material and/or hydrocracking. These tests indicate that at a pressure as high as 2300 psi (161.0 Kg/cm' desulfurization of asphaltenes does not occur to as significant an extent as a low hydrogen partial pressures. These tests were taken with an aged catalyst in the first reactor.

In FCC operations the sulfur concentration is highest in the higher boiling product fractions of the FCC prod uct. It is an important advantage of this invention that the sulfur content of the hydrodesulfurization effluent is so low that even the fuel oil range (400 to 650F. [204 to 343C]) product of FCC has a sulfur below content below 0.25 Weight percent, preferably below 0.20 weight percent, which meets commercial specifications for home heating oil in the United States, so that further desulfurization of the fuel oil is not required. This is unusual since usually furnace oil range product from FCC operations must be desulfurized to meet home heating oil sulfur commercial specification. Therefore, the hydrodesu'lfurization-FCC combination process of this invention accomplishes all required desulfurization requirements in advance of the FCC step with no desulfurization operation required after the FCC operation. A further and important advantage of this fact is that, because the sulfur is removed from the feed in advance of FCC, rather than following FCC, the sulfur dioxide in the FCC regenerator off-gas which comes from sulfurcontaining coke on the zeolite catalyst, is minimized to a level meeting commercial requirements without scrubbing of sulfur dioxide from the regenerator flue gas. It is extremely difficult to scrub sulfur dioxide in a flue gas stream and high sulfur dioxide levels in FCC regenerators are rapidly becomming an unacceptable source of air pollution. ln accordance with this invention this difficulty is obviated.

The characteristics of the hydrodesulfurization process discussed above are illustrated in the data shown in the attached figures. FIG. 1 shows the effect of hydrogen partial pressure upon the ratio of weight per cent demetallization, using demetallization at 1400 psi (98.0 Kg/cm hydrogen partialpressure as a base, of a residual oil employing a fresh (unaged) relatively low active metals level hydrogenation catalyst of the first hydrodesulfurization reaction stage of this invention. As shown in FIG. 1, data taken with an unaged low metals catalyst show that an increase of hydrogen partial pressure results in an increase in demetallization. Since most of the metals present in the feed are present in the asphaltene fraction of the feed, an increase in demetallization represents a decrease in asphaltene content of the stream passing through the reactor. P10. 1 tends to indicate that a residual oil hydrodesulfurization process wherein it is desired to produce a product having a very low metals level, such as a hydrodesulfurization process to convert a high metalscontaining residual oil to a good quality FCC feed stream which Will not unduly deactivate the FCC zeolite catalyst by excessive metals deposit thereon, requires as high a hydrogen partial pressure as possible. However, FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate the discovery of the present invention indicating that the data of FIG. 1 are misleading and that as the catalyst ages if it is desired to convert'a residual oil via hydrodesulfurization in a prolonged catalyst aging cycle to a product having a relatively low sulfur and metals content, while employing a relatively small quantity of hydrodesulfurization catalyst, it is not desirable to operate the total hydrodesulfurization process uniformly at a high pressure but rather it is more advantageous to operate the hydrodesulfurization system employing both a high pressure phase and a low pressure phase. The pressures in the stages should be selected to provide an economic optimum quantity of catalyst in the stages based on the length of the catalyst cycle desired.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate residual oil hydrodesulfurizationdata with a relatively low hydrogenation metals catalyst of the first hydrosulfurization stage of this invention under high pressure conditions including a run at 2300 psi (161.0 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure and a lower pressure run at 1950 psi (136.5 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure. FIG. 2 shows that at the higher hydrogen partial pressure of 2300 psi 161.0 Kg/cm asphaltene content diminishes at a relatively rapid rate whereas at 1950 psi (136.5 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure there is substantially no change in asphaltene content. The runs of FIGS. 2 and 3 were made with a catalyst that had been aged and not with the fresh catalyst. FIG. 3 represents the same tests as shown in FIG. 2 but illustrate what appears to be an opposite result. The data of FIG. 3 show that at the higher partial pressure of 2300 psi (161.0 Kglcm there occurs very little reduction in sulfur content in the asphaltene fraction of the stream while at the lower pressure of 1950 psi (136.5 Kg/cm there is a much greater reduction in sulfur content in the asphaltene fraction.

The dashed line in FIG. 2 indicates that at a much higher hydrogen partial pressure of 3000 psi (210.0 Kg/cm asphaltenes could be completely removed in a single reactor at a space time of about I, completely removing the problem of asphaltene sulfur content in the oil in one stage. However, at such a high pressure the reactor thickness and operating costs would be excessive and impractical. It is the purpose of the present invention to employ a lower pressure mode of operation to completely remove asphaltenes in a plurality of stages, and more particularly to arrange the stages to utilize a plurality of hydrogen pressures, whereby reactor thickness and catalyst costs are not excessive. When employing a plurality of pressures, it is important to completely remove asphaltenes at as low a first stage pressure as possible, since the second phase pressure must be a step-down from the first and an excessive pressure step-down would be wasteful.

Although the solid line data of FIGS. 2 and 3 appear to be contradictory, they illustrate the underlying dis covery of the present invention and show the unexpected nature of this discovery. Referring to FIG. 2,'at the 2300 psi 161.0 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure the asphaltene content diminishes rapidly as compared to the 1950 psi (136.5 Kg/cm") pressure test because at the 2300 psi 161.0 Kg/cm pressure, it is pressure rather than residence time at a catalyst site that appears to be controlling. An asphaltene particle present at a catalyst site at the relatively high hydrogen partial pressure 2300 psi (161.0 Kg/cm' reacts very readily so that at a very short residence time at the catalyst site the asphaltene particle is able to chemically accept some hydrogen to increase its hydrogen to carbon ratio and either be converted to a less refractory resin and/or become hydrocracked to a lower-boiling saturate or aromatic compound. At the 1950 psi (136.5 Kg/cm test condition, the pressure is not high enough to accomplish much hydrocracking and therefore an asphaltene molecule reacting at the catalyst site at the 1950 psi 136.5 Kg/cm pressure does not undergo hydrocracking but remains an asphaltene. FIG. 3 shows that at the 1950 psi 136.5 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure test condition the lack of extensive hydrocracking permitted the asphaltene molecule to remain at the catalyst site sufficiently long to become more extensively desulfurized, specifically because it was not first hydrogenated or hydrocracked and thereby enabled to readily leave the catalyst site. Therefore, at the lower pressure the catalytic effect tends to become controlling in preference to the asphaltene adsorption effect caused by the change in pressure. Therefore, the longer residence time at the 1950 psi (136.5 Kg/cm pressure does not diminish the asphaltene content in the stream but it does substantially reduce the sulfur level in the feed asphaltenes, which feed asphaltenes tend to remain as asphaltenes. On the other hand, as shown in FIG. 3, at the 2300 psi (161.0 Kg/cm pressure, the hydrogen pressure effect tends to become controlling over the catalytic effect, causing the residence time at the catalyst site to be so brief the sulfur content of the asphaltenes that remained in the stream was dimished very little. This shows that a longer residence time at the catalyst site is required to accomplish desulfurization of asphaltenes (desulfurization being a highly catalytic effect) than is required to merely add hydrogen to the asphaltene molecules and thereby to hydrocrack asphaltene molecules and the longer residence time is accomplished by reducing hydrogen pressure. In this manner, the rate of hydrogenolysis of the asphaltenes is no greater than or is less than the rate of desulfurization, thereby allowing the controlling reaction to be a desu1 furization of those asphaltenes which do not readily react to become smaller compounds.

An important feature of the showing of FIGS. 2 and- 3 is that the hydrocracking and/or hydrogenation (i.e. hydrogenolysis) that occurred at the 2300 psi (161.0 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure, while it diminished asphaltene content in the flowing stream, merely produced products containing only a slightly reduced quantity of sulfur and metals in the asphaltenes. On the other hand, the test made at the 1950 psi (136.5 Kg/cm) hydrogen partial pressure, While it did not reduce asphaltene content in the flowing stream, did succeed in sharply reducing sulfur (and also metals) contents in the asphaltene flowing stream. FIGS. 2 and 3 therefore show that if effective desulfurization is to occur in the asphaltene fraction, it is important that the hydrogen partial pressure in the first stage of the hydrodesulfurization process of the present invention need not be too high, resulting in lower costs for equipment. The data indicate that much greater sulfur removal from the asphaltenes is accomplished at 1950 psi 136.5 Kg/cm' than is accomplished at 2300 psi 161.0 Kg/cm Therefore, the hydrogen partial pressure in the first stage of the present invention with the relatively low Group ,Vl-Group VIII metals content catalyst of this invention should be less than 2300 psi 161.0 Kg/cm and preferably less than 2100 or 1900 psi 147.0 or 133.0 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure. The hydrogen partial pressure to be employed will generally be dependent upon feed properties.

FIG. 4 illustrates another unexpected discovery related to the effect of hydrogen partial pressure upon catalyst aging. The data shown in FIG. 4 also illustrate a catalyst aging effect opposite to the effect shown in the data of FIG. 1. FIG. 4 shows the results of pilot plant aging tests conducted in the initial reactor of applicants hydrodesulfurization process with. a 50 per cent reduced Kuwait crude residual feed employing an alumina-supported hydrodesulfurization catalyst having the relatively low Group VI-Group VIII metalscontent of this invention. The data of FIG. 4 show the effect of aging on the ratio of percent demetallization to percent desulfurization at various hydrogen partial pressures. FIG. 4 shows that at zero catalyst age the higher the hydrogen partial pressure the higher the ratio of percent demetallization to percent desulfurization. This is in conformity with the showing of the data in FIG. I, which was made with a fresh catalyst. However, the unexpected showing of FIG. 4 is that with increasing age the exact opposite effect occurs. That is, with increasing catalyst age, high hydrogen partial pres sures cause the ratio of percent demetallization to per cent desulfurization to become progressively lower. FIG. 4 shows that although the data curve for a 2300 psi (161.0 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressuretest initially exhibits the highest ratio of all the tests, the decline in selectivity for metals over sulfur removal with increasing age in the steepest at this high pressure. FIG. 4 shows that although the data for the 1830 psi (128.1 Kg/cm test initially has a lower ratio of demetallization to desulfurization, at this pressure there is a loss in demetallization selectivity at a lower rate, so that after an age of about 5 barrels of feed per pound of catalyst (0.00175 m"/g), this test pressure surpasses the 2300 psi 161.0 Kg/cm") test in demetallization to desulfurization ratio. The test made at 1660 psi 1 16.2 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure had a still lower initial derne: tallization selectivity, but with aging the demetallization activity actually tends to increase so that after only about a eatalystage of 2 barrels per pound (0.00070 m /g) the demetallization to desulfurization ratio for the 1660 psi (116.2 Kg/cm testis higher than the ratio for the 1830 psi 128.1 Kg/cm ltest. It is noteworthy that the tests made at the relatively high pressures of 2300 psi (161.0 Kg/cm and 1830 psi (128.1 Kg/cm both have negative slopes indicatinga decline in demetallization selectivity with catalyst aging in an extended aging test. The test made at 1660 psi (1 16.2

Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure is the highest pressure test made which exhibits a positive slope, i.e. which shows an actual increase in ratio of weight per cent demetallization to weight percent desulfurization with increasing catalyst age. At progressively lower hydrogen partial pressures between 800 psi (56.0 Kg/cm and 1660 psi 1 16.2 Kg/cm?) the ratio curve becomes increasingly steep with catalyst aging. At a pressure generally between 1700 and l800psi (11.9.0

and 126.0 Kg/cm the selectively aging curve changes in slope from negative to positive. It is noted that these values are representative .of a particular feedstock and percent sulfur feed ,streamwas converted to about a 1 weight percent sulfur effluent, except that the effluent sulfur in the 1200 psi (84.0 Kg/cm ).test was 1.12 weight percent and in the 800 psi (56.0 Kg/cm test the effluent sulfur was 1.5 weight. percent due to the fact that it was almost impossible to raise the temperature fast enough to compensate for declining catalyst activity. The 1660 psi (116.2 Kg/cm ytest is the only test shown .in FIG. 4 which was conducted at a constant temperature (775F. [413C.]) so thatas the test progressed the sulfur content in the effluent .was permitted to increase from 1.0 weight percent to 1.9 weight percent.

Referring again to FIG. 4, the test at 1400 psi (98.0 Kg/cm shows the highest ratio of percent demetallization to percent desulfurization of all the tests made. The test made at 1400 psi (98.0 Kg/cm achieves this high ratio because of two factors. First, its initial activity at this pressure is not so exceedingly low that it cannot be overcome by a positive aging slope. Secondly, the aging slope is sufficiently steep so that, combined with the relatively high initial catalyst activity, the 1400 psi (98.0 Kg/cm pressure achieves high demetallization rates very early in the run. For example, the demetallization ratio in the 1400 psi (98.0 Kg/cm run exceeds the demetallization ratio for the 1830 psi 128.1 Kg/cm run at a catalyst age of only 1 barrel per pound (0.00035 m lg). After this catalyst age, the 1400 psi (98.0 Kg/cm run far exceeds the 1830 psi (128.1 Kg /cm run in demetallization activity. The data in FIG. 4 show that the initial activity for the tests made at 800 and 1200 psi (56.0 and 84.0 Kg/cm were so low that in spite of the steepness of the slope of the demetallization curves upon aging at these two pressures, an excessively great time duration elapsed before an appreciably high demetallization ratio was achieved. According to the data shown inv FIG. 4, the final phase reactor is best operated at a pressure of about, 1400 psi (98.0 Kg/cm?) of hydrogen and generally between 1300 psi (91.0 Kg/cm and 1600 psi (112.0 Kg/cm or 17 .00 psi (1 19.0 Kg/cm of hydrogen. An optimum pressure range would be about between 1300 psi (91.0 Kg/cm or 1350 psi (94.5 Kg/cm and 1500 psi 105.0 Kg/cm hydrogen pressure. Best results are obtained when the first and final stage hydrogen pressures pass the threshold values wherein the percent demetallization/percent desulfurization v. catalyst age is slightly negative in the first stage whereas this same slope is positive in the final stage.

FIG. 4 shows runs conducted at a sufficiently low pressure that the controlling feature in the reactor is the absorption and residence time of asphaltene at a catalyst site or sites. At these low hydrogen pressures, significant hydrocracking or hydrogenation activity does not occur and therefore an asphaltene molecule contacting a catalyst site tends to reside at the site or to move to another catalyst site for a significant total catalyst residence time before reaction can occur. Due to the lengthened on-catalyst residence time at low hydrogen partial pressures, the reaction that occurs is not aptto by hydrocracking or simple hydrogenation but is more apt to be removal of metals and sulfur accompanied by an acceptance of hydrogen to provide a loss of metal and sulfur from the asphaltene molecule. At the low pressures, such as 1400 psi (98.0 Kg/cm the residence time required is sufficiently great that a significant build-up of asphaltene molecular occurs upon the surface of the catalyst. The asphaltene content of the catalyst may reach about 20 to 40 percent by weight of catalyst, as compared with a coke level on the catalyst in the first or high pressure hydrodesulfurization stage of only about 5-15 weight percent. However, at the low pressure stage and with the high level of hydrogenation metals on the low pressure catalyst, the asphaltenes do not tend to dehydrogenate and form what is known as carbon or coke of very low hydrogen content. Instead, they tend to remain as asphaltenes and to reside at the catalyst site while they slowly desulfurize and demetallize. Upon reacting by loss of sulfur and/or metal, they then may leave the catalyst and may be replaced by a fresh asphaltene particle. In the molecules leaving the catalyst, the void left by the removed metal or sulfur is replaced by hydrogen so that the ratio of hydrogen to carbon in the molecule is increased and the treated molecule is no longer an asphaltene. In this manner, a substantial equilibrium level of asphaltenes is rapidly achieved on the surface of the catalyst. Although the residence time required for reaction is low due to the relatively low hydrogen partial pressure, the hydrogen pressure is selected in relation to the Group VI-Group Vlll metals level on the catalyst so that an equilibrium level of asphaltenes on the catalyst is achieved. At the equilibrium level or plateau there is no significant increase or decrease in asphaltenes content on the surface of the catalyst and a significantly long aging run can be achieved so that the total catalyst age before deactivation, that is, before the catalyst reaches a temperature of 790 or 800F. (421 or 427C), or above, depending upon reactor metallurgy, to achieve the desired effluent metals and sulfur level is as great or is balanced in the final reactor as compared to length of the run in the initial or high pressure reactor.

It is noted that the very high percentage metals removal level is only useful in the final reactor where the total asphaltene and metals concentration is the stream is already low and not in the initial reactor 'where the total asphaltene and metals level is high where very high percentage removal of metals would result in excessively rapid catalyst aging. Therefore, in the balanced hydrodesulfurization system of this invention, the life of the catalyst in the initial stage is metals limited while the life of the catalyst in the final stage is cokeJimited, with the life cycles being essentially balanced.

FIG. 4 shows that in a lengthy commercial operation of at least or 12 barrels of feed oil per pound of catalyst (0.00350 or 0.00420 m /g), the only runs that achieved a weight ratio of demetallization to desulfurization of greater than 1 at both start-'of-run and endof-run were the 1400, 1660 and 1830 psi (98.0, 1 16.2 and 128.1 Kg/cm") runs. A ratio greater than 1 indicates the reactor is primarily an asphaltene removal reactor since most metals are concentrated in the asphaltenes. Since the third stage is capable of maintaining percent demetallization to percent desulfurization ratios greater than I, and can produce an asphaltene-free effluent throughout the cycle of IO l2 barrels per pound (0.00350 0.00420 m"/g), a considerable savings in catalyst cost is realized by employing a relatively lower Group Vl-Group VIII metal catalyst in the first or first and second stages since a high proportion of catalyst cost is based on the Group VI- Group VIII metals content thereon. Depending on the space velocities employed, FIG. 4 shows catalyst life cycles of 4, 5, 6 or even 1 l or 12, or more, months is possible before regeneration or discarding of the catalyst.

FIG. 5 shows a typical aging run in a first stage reactor of this invention in terms of catalyst age versus increase in reaction temperature to reduce a 650F. (343C.+) residue from about 4 weight percent sulfur to about 1 weight percent sulfur at about 1830 psi l 28. l Kg/cm partial pressure of hydrogen with a relatively low hydrogenation metals content catalyst of the present invention.

FIG. 6 shows similar aging runs at various space velocities (as reflected by cycle lengths) wherein the effluent from the test of FIG. 5, after being flashed to remove hydrogen sulfide and light hydrocarbons, and after receiving fresh hydrogen to be repressurized to about nearly the same hydrogen pressure as the hydrogen pressure in the first reactor, and employing a similar low hydrogenation metals catalyst as employed in the first reactor, is further treated in a second reactor to reducethe sulfur content from about 1 weight percent down to either 0.3 or 0.5 weight percent sulfur.

FIG. 7 shows the results of aging runs made in the third and final hydrodesulfurization reactor of this invention. A comparison of FIG. 7 with FIGS. 5 and 6 shows that the aging rate of the third reactor (FIG. 7) is much more rapid than the aging rate in the earlier reactors and the catalyst in the third reac'tor cannot last the full cycle reached in the earlier reactors unless special steps are taken in the third reactor, as described, which are not required in the first two reactors. The third reactor was operated at 1700 psi I 19.0 Kg/cm hydrogen partial pressure and contained a catalyst having a higher Group VI- Group VIII metals content than the catalyst of the first two reactors. It is emphasized that the feed to the final reactor, after having its sulfur content reduced to 0.3 0.5 weight percent, has remaining in it the most refractory sulfur and also the most refractory metals present in the feed oil. This remaining sulfur and metals content is probably most refractory because, for example, it is the feed sulfur and metals content which is the most deeply embedded within the interior of the feed asphaltene or resin molecules. By the time the stream reaches the final stage,

most of the sulfur and metals content of the total stream is present in the remaining asphaltenes. Most of the less refractory sulfur and metals, i.e., the metals closest to the fringe of the asphaltene molecule, are more readily removed and are extracted in the first two stages. Because the sulfur and metals content in the stream entering the final stage contains the most refractory metals and sulfur, the asphaltenes in the stream require the longest residence time at a catalyst site. They also require a catalyst which is enhanced in hydrogenation activity as compared to the catalyst 'used to remove less refractory sulfur and metals. While the reaction in the initial stage tends to be hydrogen pressure limited, the reaction in the final stage tends to be catalyst contact-time limited and low hydrogen pressure in the final stage tends to encourage lengthy contact time of the most refractory species. such as asphaltenes, at a catalyst site. just as high hydrogen pressure in an initial stage tends to inhibit asphaltene residence time at a catalyst site. Furthermore, because the sulfur level in the feed in the final stage is so low, even'the removal of said sulfur as hydrogen sulfide in insufficient to maintain sufficient sulfur in the atmosphere to permit the catalyst in the final stage to be maintained in a fully or start-of-run sulfided condition,-as required to prevent its rapid deactivation. Therefore, there is no flashing step between the second and third stageslof the present invention and the hydrogen sulfide produced in the second stage is passed to the third stage and is used as a source of sulfur for maintaining the third stage catalyst in a highly sulfided condition, as is required for maintaining its activity.

The lack of hydrogen sulfide in .the third reactor causes the catalyst to lose sulfur so as to maintain an equilibrium, with respect to hydrogen sulfide, between the catalyst, the liquid and the gas phases, If the catalyst is to be maintained in an adequately sulfided state, it is necessary for the reaction stream to contain a sufficient quantity with hydrogen sulfide by maintaining a hydrogen sulfide atmosphere in the gases in contact with reaction stream. If there is insufficient hydrogen sulfide gas in contact with the stream to the reactant liquid saturated with hydrogen sulfide, the feed liquid will drain sulfur from the catalyst. But if there is sufficient gaseous hydrogen sulfide to saturatethe feed liquid, the liquid will not tend to reduce the sulfur level of the catalyst. Therefore, it is important that suffieient hydrogen sulfide is added to the third stage to keep the liquid in the third stage saturated with hydrogen sulfide and this can only be accomplished if there is sufficient hydrogen sulfide partial pressure above .the liquid to maintain the active catalytic metals in a fully sulfided state. r

The test made in FIG. 7 illustrates the importance of external addition of sulfur to the final stage catalyst, whether this sulfur comes from the previous stage, is injected as hydrogen sulfide or is injected as an extraneous organic sulfur-containing compound which is easily convertible to hydrogen sulfide. The data illustrated by the triangle data points in FIG. 7 were taken to simulate the final stage of the hydrodesulfurization process of this invention except that no hydrogen sulfide from any source was added with the 'feed. As shown, the aging slope was steep throughout the run. However, the data in FIG. 7 illustrated by the square shaped points show a feed also devoid of hydrogen sulfide from any source until the region A denoted by hexanethiol addition was reached. The aging curve Wasjust as steep until reaching region A. At region A, the sulfur containing compound hcxanethiol was added with the feed in order to contribute sulfur for sulfiding of the catalyst. As shown in FIG. 7, when the hcxanethiol was added the aging rate became stabilized and the curve became relatively flat, indicating essentially no further catalyst aging during the sulfiding of the catalyst. After the hcxanethiol addition was terminated, at the end of the flat region A. the aging rate. again increased, indicated by the region of the curve B, illustrating the criticality in the final stage of the present invention of maintaining the high Group VI-Group VIII metals-content catalyst in a sulfided condition. The addition of sulfur from a source other than the sulfur-refractory feed stream to sulfide the final stage catalystduring the run is shown to be particularly important in the final stage. Of course, the addition of hydrogen sulfide is not harmful from the point of view of reducing the hydrogen partial pressure because, as explained above, the final stageof the hydrodesulfurization process of this invention operates most advantageously at low hydrogen partial pressures. Tests were made in which the substitution of other hydrogen sulfide precursors, such as butanethiol, thiophene and ethanethiol were also found to provide a flat aging rate in the third stage.

The dearth of hydrogen sulfide is not noticed early in a test but depends upon the length of the test and the amount of catalyst present. A lack of hydrogen sulfide in the third reactor atmosphere results in initial desulfurization of the top of the third stage catalyst bed coupled with a covering of catalyst sites with hydrogendeficient hydrocarbons, shifting the reaction burden to progressively deeper regions of the bed which are not yet desulfided. It is only when the desulfurization of the catalyst and covering of the catalyst sites with hydrogen deficient hydrocarbons reaches sufficiently deeply into the catalyst bed leaving insufificient fully sulfided and non-coated catalyst remaining, that the lack of hydrogen sulfide becomes apparent. Therefore, the lack of hydrogen sulfide is not immediately apparent in the third stage at start-of-run'. Also, after a desulfided catalyst is resulfided onstream during a run by extraneous hydrogen sulfide addition, termination of hydrogen sulfide addition does not show a deleterious effect upon aging rate until the desulfiding and catalyst coating procedure has again progressed sufficiently deeply into the bed that insufficient fully sulfided and uncoated catalyst remains.

.FIG. 8 schematically illustrated a preferred threestage hydrodesulfurization process of this invention. As shown in FIG. 8, a reduced crude such as 650F.+ (343C.+) Kuwait reduced crude from an atmospheric tower bottoms is charged through line 10 through a filter 12 wherein salts and solids are removed. The feed then passes into like 14 and is heated in furnace 16 from which it passes to the first high pressure reactor 18 through line 20. The catalyst-in the first stage stabilizes at a coke level of about 14 weight percent throughout substantially an entire six month test. The effluent from reactor 18 is flashed to remove hydrogen sulfide and light hydrocar'bonsin flash chamber 20. These light materials pass through line 22 to line 24 and into a recycle gas treatment apparatus 26 from which hydrogen sulfide is recovered through line 28 and light hydrocarbons are recovered through line 30. Purified hydrogen is then available for recycle through line 52.

The flashed liquid from reactor 18 containing about 1 percent sulfur is passed through line 32 and admixed with purified hydrogen entering. through line 34. The repressurized stream in line 36e'nters the second reactor 38. Reactors l8 and 38 have the same type of low Group IV-Group VIII metals catalyst. The effluent from the second reactor 38 in line 40 contains about 0.5 0.3 weight percent sulfur and contains all the hydrogen sulfide produced in reactor 38. It enters the third reactor 42 through line 40 without being flashed for removal of hydrogen sulfide, whereby the hydrogen partial pressure in reactor 42 is lower than the hydrogen partial pressure in reactors I8 and 38. Furthermore, line 40 introduces a pressure drop between reactors 38 and 42 to further lower the hydrogen pressure in reactor 42 and so that, in terms of pressure drop, reactor 42 is not equivalent to merely an elongated combination reactor 38-42. Fresh hydrogen is not added to the charge to reactor 42 in order to-maintain a low hydrogen partial pressure in reactor 42. Reactor 42 contains a catalyst comprising a' higher proportion of Group VI and Group VIII metals than the-catalyst of the first two reactors-and operates at a lower pressure than does the first two reactors. If additional hydrogen sulfide is required'to maintain catalyst activity in reactor 42, it can be supplied from an extraneous source, not shown, or can be a slip-stream-of hydrogensulfidecontaining low hydrogen partial pressure gases from the first reactor which is charged to third reactor feed line 40 throughline 23. Y Y I The coke level on the third stage catalyst stabilizes at about 20-40 weight percent based on original catalyst throughout substantially an entire six month test but contains only about 0.5 weight percent of metals from the feed at the end of a six month test. Unless extraneous sulfur is added, the NiS catalyst can be reduced to Ni S while the M08 can be reduced to Mo S The feed to the third reactor may contain a finite amount from less than about 1 to as high as 3 weight percent asphaltenes, which is reduced to about zero percent, and clearly below 0.1 weight percent asphaltenes in the third reactor depending upon the feed to the-process. The productbeing asphalt-free constitutes a lubricating oil feedstock in a suitable boiling range without a solvent deasphalting step required. The asphaltenes have an affinity forthe catalyst sites and therefore move through the third stage at a lower-space velocity than the lighter saturates and aromatics, which do not require as much desulfurization or demetallizatiomwhich lighter materials tend to be less attracted to the catalyst sites, moving through the third stage at a much higher space velocity than the asphaltenes.

The effluent from reactor 42 passes through line 44 into flash chamber :46 from which light gases are removed through line 48 and from which liquid is removed through line 50. The light gases in line 48 are admixed with the light gases in line 22 and pass to-the recycle gas treatment chamber 26. Recycle hydrogen is recovered from chamber 26 through line 52 and is repressurized in compressor 54 for recycle to the feed stream through line 56 for feeding to the first reactor 18 or through line 58 for charging to the second reactor 38 through heater 60. Make-up hydrogen is added through line 62. Product liquid from flash chamber 46 is passed through line 50 to a fractionator 64 from which low sulfur, low metals, fuel oil suitable for feeding to an FCC cracking unit is removed as bottoms through line 66. If desired a separate gas oil fuel can be removed through line 68. A small amount of naphtha, if produced, is removed through line 70 and off-gas is removed through line 72. The process converts less than 20 percent, preferably less than 10 percent and most preferably less than or even less than 2 percent of the feed in line to material boiling in the naphtha range or below. I i The middle stage 38 of the three hydrodesul furization stages of the present invention is pivotal to improved operation in the first. stage '18 and to improved operation in the third stage 42. Since the middle stage 38 is a relatively high pressure stage and employs the same catalyst as the first stage 18, itprovide's acombination relatively high pressure process with the first stage 18, wherein less catalyst is required for 'a' given amount of sulfur removal in high pressurestages 18 and 42, than if the same amount of sulfur were re moved'in a single stage without intermediate flashing. This advantageous effect is the subject of Ser. No. 206,083, filed 'Deci" 8, 197], now US. Pat. No. 3,775,305, which is hereby incorporated by reference. It is shown below that the cooperative effect between reactor 38 and'the final reactor 42 causesreactor' 42 to reduce catalyst consumption also. The intermediate flashing step between stages 1 and'2 provides the advantages necessary to high pressure operation, i.e. removing hydrogen sulfide'reaction 'product and increasing hydrogen partial pressure by removal of hydrogen sulfide and light hydrocarbon gases produced in the first stage. In' this manner a higher average hydrogen partial pressure in the first two stages is realized with consequent greater sulfur removal occurring in stages 18 and 38 than would occur in a single'stage with the same total quantity of catalyst or in two stages without intermediate flashing with the same total quantity of catalyst. The middleor second stage 38 also cooperates with the final and relatively low pressure stage 42 utilizing the more highly active hydrogenation'catalyst by providing hydrogen sulfide required in the'low pressure stageby virtue of the facts that there is no-flashing step between the second and third stages, there is no high pressure purified hydrogen injection between the Sec ond and thirdstages and the line 40 between the second and third stages introducesa pressure drop between the stages. In this manner, the second stage provideshydrogen sulfide to the third stage and thereby helps to keept the third stage catalyst in an active, sulfided state, and also helps to reduce the hydrogen partial pressure in-the gases entering the third stage in order to advantageously lower the hydrogen pressure in the third'stage.

The third stage catalyst is more preferential to metal removal than sulfur removal as compared to the first stage catalyst. For example, the first stage catalyst removes weight percent of both feed sulfur and feed metals while the third stage catalyst removes 73 weight percent of its feed sulfur but 89 weight percent of its feed metals.

v The low sulfur material in line 66 of FIG. 8 is charged to the FCC system shown in FIG. 9 through line 74 and possibly also line 76 of FIG. 9. The total feed to the riser is preferably the hydrodesulfurized residual oil but distillate can also be added to the riser, if desired. Dispersion steam is added to the FCC riser through lines 78 and 80. Hot regenerated zeolite catalyst is added through'line 82 while recycle oil is added through line 84. All catalyst fed to the'riser is fed to the riser inlet to provide as high a flash equilibrium vaporization temperature as possible at the'reactor inlet to vaporize the maximum possible quantity of residue to prevent coke formation due to nonvaporization of high boiling feed OiL-There is essentially-no increase of catalyst to oil ratio along the'reaction flow stream in the riser and there is essentially no slippage'of catalyst relative to hydrocarbon along the 'reaction'flow path. The entire mixture passes upwardly through riser cracker 86 which is capped at'88' and the mixture discharges from the riser through lateral slots 90 into a stripper chamber 92. The residence time in the riser is less than 5 seconds,- preferably less than 2 or 3 seconds. Stripping steam is added through line 94 to remove hydrocarbons from deactivated catalyst and cracked effluent passes through a separation chamber 96 containing cyclones, not shown, wherein solids are-removed from product

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4334976 *Jan 13, 1981Jun 15, 1982Mobil Oil CorporationUpgrading of residual oil
US4411770 *Apr 16, 1982Oct 25, 1983Mobil Oil CorporationHydrovisbreaking process
US4421633 *Mar 13, 1981Dec 20, 1983Mobil Oil CorporationLow pressure cyclic hydrocracking process using multi-catalyst bed reactor for heavy liquids
US4619759 *Apr 24, 1985Oct 28, 1986Phillips Petroleum CompanyTwo-stage hydrotreating of a mixture of resid and light cycle oil
US6153086 *May 6, 1998Nov 28, 2000Exxon Research And Engineering CompanyCombination cocurrent and countercurrent staged hydroprocessing with a vapor stage
US6241952Aug 12, 1999Jun 5, 2001Exxon Research And Engineering CompanyCountercurrent reactor with interstage stripping of NH3 and H2S in gas/liquid contacting zones
US6495029Aug 27, 1999Dec 17, 2002Exxon Research And Engineering CompanyCountercurrent desulfurization process for refractory organosulfur heterocycles
US6497810Dec 7, 1999Dec 24, 2002Larry L. LaccinoCountercurrent hydroprocessing with feedstream quench to control temperature
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US6579443Dec 7, 1999Jun 17, 2003Exxonmobil Research And Engineering CompanyCountercurrent hydroprocessing with treatment of feedstream to remove particulates and foulant precursors
US6623621Dec 7, 1999Sep 23, 2003Exxonmobil Research And Engineering CompanyControl of flooding in a countercurrent flow reactor by use of temperature of liquid product stream
US6835301Dec 7, 1999Dec 28, 2004Exxon Research And Engineering CompanyProduction of low sulfur/low aromatics distillates
US9126174Mar 28, 2011Sep 8, 2015Uop LlcHydroprocessing method, or an apparatus relating thereto
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Classifications
U.S. Classification208/210, 208/216.00R, 208/58
International ClassificationC10G65/04
Cooperative ClassificationC10G2300/107, C10G65/04
European ClassificationC10G65/04
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 5, 1986ASAssignment
Owner name: CHEVRON RESEARCH COMPANY, SAN FRANCISCO, CA. A COR
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST.;ASSIGNOR:GULF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, A CORP. OF DE.;REEL/FRAME:004610/0801
Effective date: 19860423
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GULF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT COMPANY, A CORP. OF DE.;REEL/FRAME:004610/0801