1. Processing Technologies
(1) Development of Petroleomics Technology
Heavy oil is a super-multi-component mixture having a highly complex molecular structure. The current refining process is based on the assumption that heavy oil is a homogeneous fraction or bulk. The structural formulae and general properties derived from that assumption are used for refining. In a sense, no scientific knowledge about ideal solutions has been available yet. JPEC has been working on the development of Petroleomics technology, a key next-generation fundamental oil refining technology, for the purpose of ensuring molecular-level understanding of the compositions and the reactive properties of feedstocks. Information obtained by this technology will be effectively utilized for realizing ultrahigh efficiency in the refining process. Ultrahigh efficiency refining process is an ideal process which takes the composition of each feedstock into account for totally avoiding wasteful consumption of hydrogen and energy as well as undesirable side reaction products.
1) Elemental Technologies Necessary for the Development of Petroleomics Technology
(a) Detailed Chemical Composition Analysis of Heavy Oil
Technology for detailed chemical composition analysis is among the elemental technologies necessary for Petroleomics. Column chromatograms such as high performance liquid chromatograms are used for separating and fractionating petroleum feedstocks/products according to their structure of type. Detailed composition analysis is conducted by means of an ultra-high resolution mass spectrometer.
The mass spectroscopy is essential and very efficient for the analysis on huge number of compounds.
JPEC is developing the advanced technique on the separation,the composition analysis, and the detailed structure analysis of petroleum compounds to realize the molecule-based management of petroleum feedstocks/products.
(b) Molecule-based Reaction Modeling Technology
Another elemental technology for Petroleomics is the one for molecule-based reaction modeling. The results of detailed composition analysis are used for molecular-level reaction analysis which makes it possible to predict molecular reactions. The conditions and process of reaction, catalyst design principles, and operation control indicators are determined for securing the optimum reaction route which is identified by means of this modeling technology.
2) Technological Development of Petroleomics
JPEC Petroleomics Laboratory is for basic research of elemental technologies and other laboratories are for practical research. Development of technologies applicable to various processes is efficiently promoted through concurrent implementation of fundamental and practical studies. Some of the examples are shown below.
(a) Development of Technologies for Heavy Oil Cracking Processes Utilizing Advanced Pre-treatment Processing and Hydrotreating
In order to ensure that heavy oil cracking results in decreased production
of high-sulfur fuel oil, JPEC will develop technologies for advanced refining
processes through optimized combination of:
a. Advanced pre-treatment processing that can degradate aggregation of asphaltenes
b. Desulfurization catalyst system for fuel oils that is highly tolerant to deactivation
c. Upgraded feedstock supply units for RFCC which help improve cracking reactions substantially
By securing refining technologies for processing heavy vacuum residual oils having API gravity between 10 and 20 and extra-heavy fuel oils having API gravity of 10 or less, the total output of high-sulfur fuel oils will be reduced by more than 30%.
(b) Analysis of the Catalyst Deactivation Mechanism for Developing Optimum Technologies for Processing Feedstocks with Low Reactivity
Precise analysis based on molecular-level understanding will solve the reason for the rapid catalytic deactivation observed during hydroprocessing of feedstocks with low reactivity derived from heavy crude oil. The analysis results will be used for developing optimum technologies for processing feedstocks with low reactivity. Technologies will also be developed for precise analysis that helps understand the structure and the properties of deactivated catalysts as well as the molecular structures of the substances which are contained in feedstocks and reduce catalytic activity. For this purpose, Petroleomics technology will be utilized. JPEC will also develop technologies necessary for providing guidelines regarding the optimum processes of feeding and reactions of feedstocks.
(c) Development of Advanced Residue Cracking Technologies for Processing Extra-heavy Oils
JPEC will develop technologies for utilizing extra-heavy oils to produce fuel oils such as gasoline, kerosene and diesel oil that conform to the Japanese quality standards as well as petrochemical feedstocks including light olefins and BTX (i.e. Benzene, Toluene and Xylene) without affecting the quality of other petroleum products.
(d) Development of Innovative Upgrading Process for Light Cycle Oils and Others
Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) units are mainly used for heavy oil cracking to produce gasoline and light cycle oils. Because surplus
production is expected of light cycle oils, JPEC will develop a new upgrading process in which low-grade fractions such as light cycle oils are used for efficiently producing high-octane fractions such as BTX. This process will represent innovative conversion technologies which make selective production of BTX possible without the need for external hydrogen supply.