Mining University Researchers Working to Improve Catalyst Efficiency

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Catalysts are needed in the production of fuels and oils. St. Petersburg Mining University is engaged in research on improving catalyst efficiency and reducing production costs. University’s scientists have already completed the lab research and are running pilot tests.

Hydrotreating catalysts are used to generate ultra-low-sulphur diesel fuels from crude oil. One of the benefits they may bring lies in reducing noxious emissions released into the atmosphere by vehicles’ exhaust pipes.

“The requirements regarding the fuel sulphur content are constantly getting tighter. For now, the maximum permissible concentration is equal to 10 ppm, which is one-thousandth of a percent (0.001%). This means that the catalysts should be of the highest quality, too. They must be such that they withstand enormous loads without losing their properties. And this has to be ensured throughout the entire period of an inter-repair run of the reactor – usually a minimum of one year. Perhaps, I should clarify: I am talking about the aggressive environment which catalysts need to endure, with temperatures reaching nearly 400 degrees Celsius, pressures of almost five megapascals, and the dead weight of their own pushing down, as the upper layers press on the lower ones,” explains Rostislav Konoplin, a PhD student at St. Petersburg Mining University.

“The era of electric vehicles will come, but residents of urban cities need clean air to breathe now, not in the future. Hence, we should continue our work on improving the technology.”

“Our goal is to optimize the properties of catalyst carriers – for this purpose, aluminium oxide is used. We are getting pilot batches produced now, and have already seen some very positive results. These concern, for instance, structural characteristics, which enhance resistance to stress rupture, and also textural features – they define efficiency,” says Rostislav.

Rostislav’s research paper named “On the Issue of Domestic Hydrotreating Catalysts Production Technology” was presented at the International Forum-Contest of Young Researchers “Topical Issues of Rational Use of Natural Resources”. As the winner of the event, he thereupon participated in the “Young Leaders of Science – 2020” final scientific session. The latter was organized by St. Petersburg Mining University in conjunction with the International Competence Centre for Mining-Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO.