You are on page 1of 5

Module 2 : Petroleum Refining Overview Lecture 7 : Reforming and Isomerization

Reforming (fig a):


The catalytic cracking involves enhancing the octane number of the product Heavy naphthas are used are typical feed stocks The reaction is carried out on a catalyst Reforming reaction produces hydrogen as a by product which is used elsewhere in the refinery sually !latinum supported on porous alumina is used as a catalyst "atalyst activity enhanced using chloride
Cracking Chemistry

!araffin isomerisation takes place #aphthene isomerisation also takes place to produce cycloalkanes "yclo alkanes undergo dehydrogenation to generate aromatics

$ehydrocyclization takes places to convert side chained alkanes to cyclo alkanes and hydrogen In summary lower octane number feeds are converted to high octane products The reformate thus produced has high octane and aromatics %benzene& toluene and 'ylene( content) The reactions are endothermic) Therefore& heat needs to be supplied
Process technology

The feed is mi'ed with recycled hydrogen *ubse+uently& it is heated before sending to reactor *ince the reactions are highly endothermic& several combinations of reactor , heaters are used) The products from the final reactor are cooled) -ften this is carried out with heat recovery principle in
which heat is recovered using the fresh feed to the first reactor)

.fter this& the product mi'ture enters a phase separator which separates the hydrogen gas stream from
the li+uid stream)

The li+uid stream from the phase separator is sent to a debutanizer distillation column that separates
butanes and lower alkanes from the reformate product)

The hydrogen produced in the phase separator is compressed and sent back to the first reactor) /'cess hydrogen generated in the reactions is taken out as a bleed stream "atalyst regeneration %not shown in the flow sheet( needs to be carried out to regain catalyst activity)
This can be in different modes of operation namely cyclic& semi0regenerative or continuous) 1hen continuous mode of catalyst regeneration is carried out %as in -! continuous catalytic reforming process(& the moving bed designs are used for the reforming reactor) .dditional comple'ity in the moving bed reactors is to enable process intensification to club the se+uence of three reactors , heaters into one single unit) Process arameters

Reactor pressure: 2 3 42 barg Reactor temperature: 566 3 5457" H48Hydrocarbon molar ratio: 4 3 9
Isomeri!ation (fig ")


The basic principle of Isomerization is to straight chain alkanes to side chain paraffins) This enhances
the octane number substantially

:or instance& n0pentane has an octane number of ;<)7 where as iso0pentane has an octane number of

sually light naphtha is used as a feed stock


!latinum base catalysts are used .l"ll9 is used as a promoter for the catalyst $uring reaction& part of the .l"l9 gets converted to H"l Therefore& completely dry conditions shall be maintained to avoid catalyst deactivation and corrosion) "atalytic reaction takes place in the presence of hydrogen to suppress coke formation
Process technology

Light naphtha and hydrogen %make up( are totally dried and sent to an isomerisation reactor after pre0
heating the feed mi'ture in a heat e'changer

Reaction operating conditions: <56 3 4667" and <7 3 4> barg Typical conversions: 75 3 >6 ? for pentanes) .fter reaction& .l"l9 is recovered from the product using condensation or distillation The basic principle for .l"l9 recovery is that at the reactor operating conditions& the .l"ll 9 is in volatile
conditions and is soluble in hydrocarbons

.fter .l"l9 is recovered from the product& it is sent back to the reactor along with the make0 up .l"l 9 /ventually& the product enters a flash drum where bulkly light ends along with little +uantities of H"l are
separated from the li+uid product)

The light ends recovered from the flash drum are sent to a H"l absorber where H"l is absorbed into
caustic solution to generate the light end gases) The light end gases can be further used for other processes in the refinery)

The bottom product then enters a H"l stripper where most of the H"l is stripped from the isomerisation
product rich stream) The H"l is recycled back to the reactor to ensure good catalyst activity) @ake0up H"l is added to account for losses

*ubse+uently& caustic wash is carried out to remove any trace +uantities of H"l The isoermized product rich stream is then sent to a fractionators that separates the isomerized product
from the unreacted feed)

The unreacted feed from the fractionators is sent back to the reactor)
#echnical $uestions %& 'hy is hydrogen used in the reforming reaction( )ns: Hydrogen reduces the coke formation on the catalyst and therefore increases the shell life of the highly e'pensive platinum catalyst) 2& 'hy is reforming a very im ortant rocess in the refinery( )ns: The reforming is one of the most important operation in the refinery to enhance product +uality) :urther& the total hydrogen re+uirement in the refinery for various hydrotreaters is produced in the reforming process) Therefore& the reformer contributes to both most important re+uirements of the refinery) *& +ooking at the rocess flow,sheet of the reforming and isomerisation insights you gain towards the flowsheet evolution( rocess- what

)ns: Aoth reforming and isomerisation flow sheets are typical e'amples of reactor0separator0recycle systems that are e'tensively studied in process synthesis and evaluation studies) These flow sheets are candidate e'amples to illustrate the process development re+uired for other non0conventional and novel technologies such as bio0fuel processing etc) .& 'hat research contri"utions can "e rovided "y chemical engineers to "oth reforming and isomerisation reactions(

)ns: Aoth reforming and isomerisation reactions are centrally built upon the catalyst) Therefore& catalyst engineering is the most important area where research contribution by chemical engineers will be of paramount significance) In fact& process modifications of the entire petroleum refinery are dictated by catalyst engineering and energy integration research) /& 'hy is make u )lCl* re$uired in the isomerisation rocess( )ns: . part of the .l"l 9 gets converted to the H"l and therefore gets lost) The make up .l"l 9therefore replaces the lost H"l in the process) 0& Comment u on the 1Cl distri"ution "etween light ends and "ottom li$uid flash drum( roduct in the

)ns: @ost of the H"l distributes towards the li+uid phase only) Little +uantites of H"l enter the light end stream %gas phase() The distribution of H"l is dictated by the operating conditions of the flash drum)