Ongoing Optimisation Manufacturing Capabilities and Data Analysis make a Powerful Combination
Almost uniquely in this specialist field, Topsoe is in control of the entire value chain from development to manufacturing to gathering data/feedback directly from the customers and to subsequent improvement. In the specialist world of reactor grading, the company is a one-stop shop for manufacturing, analysis and optimisation.
Denmark – Topsoe manufactures its own catalysts at its plants in Frederikssund, Denmark and Houston, Texas. These have been ISO 9001-certified since 1994, and are constantly being updated and upgraded.
The production process includes alumina production, carrier preparation – including mixing, extrusion and calcination – and catalyst impregnation. Having its own production setup means the company is uniquely positioned to continually optimise existing products, and provide innovative, highly porous carriers with extremely high surface areas.
Configured and Customised for Best Results
The pore volume and the surface area of the carrier material are connected, and its manufacturing capabilities pave the way to produce the exact balance between the specifications needed for each specific purpose. Another key factor lies in selection of the appropriate active metals and promoters as part of the impregnation process.
The firm can also use these capabilities to develop new catalyst configurations and designs, to fine-tune the performance of its hydroprocessing products and to develop innovative proprietary solutions.
And because the company itself produces the alumina required for its own catalyst products, it is in full control of the entire production process.
Topsoe is one of the very few companies in the world capable of designing and manufacturing extruded 1/8” and 3/16” ring-shaped catalyst pellets with the strength to permit an outer/inner diameter ratio of 2:1, and thus provide maximum feed contaminant capacity.
This is because the firm has developed and perfected its own extrusion technology, which in turn makes Topsoe uniquely capable of designing and delivering new shapes and configurations for catalyst pellets.
This is usually done by installing test baskets or canisters in a particular location within a specific hydroprocessing reactor. Such canisters hold multiple catalysts in different compartments, to measure and test how each reacts to a known set of contaminants in the course of the entire cycle. The canister is removed once the cycle is complete.
In collaboration with customers all over the world, the company is able to install more than 100 such test canisters in different hydroprocessing setups every year. This enables the firm to sample and analyze the contents – including the material trapped in the voids between the particles.
These complex analyses are carried out in Topsoe’s own world-class R&D laboratories, using a range of highly advanced analysis techniques. These include scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy, which were what made Topsoe the first company ever able to see catalyst details down to 1.2 angstroms in size.
This remarkable equipment has subsequently played a pivotal role in its R&D activities, and paved the way to numerous technical breakthroughs and market-first grading products.
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Refineries are constantly on the lookout for better, more cost-effective catalysts with the highest possible activity in order to obtain the desired boost in performance.
Even now, 40 years later, few companies can even get close to matching the breakthrough science and catalyst manufacturing technologies at the heart of Topsoe manufacturing plants. These make it possible to optimise grading catalyst material to tackle increasing numbers of specific requirements.
This gets increasingly important as feedstock specs vary more and more, and refineries’ customers’ requirements get more and more stringent. Effective grading protects one’s bulk catalysts from at least the worst contamination and pressure drop glitches.