- Catalytic cracking breaks complex hydrocarbons into simpler molecules in order to increase the quality and quantity of lighter, more desirable products and decrease the amount of residuals. This process rearranges the molecular structure of hydrocarbon compounds to convert heavy hydrocarbon feedstock into lighter fractions such as kerosene, gasoline, LPG, heating oil, and petrochemical feedstock.
How It Works
- The FCC can convert Hvgo Heavy Vacuum Gas Oil, certain atmospheric residues and heavy stocks recovered from other refinery operations into high-octane gasoline, light fuel oils and olefin-rich light gases like propylene for petrochemical use and butenes needed for the alkylation process
- The oil is cracked in the presence of a finely divided catalyst which is maintained in an aerated or fluidized state by the oil vapors. The fluid catalyst is continuously circulated between the reactor and the regenerator using air, oil vapors, and steam as the conveying media.
- A typical FCC process involves mixing a preheated hydrocarbon charge with hot, regenerated catalyst as it enters the riser leading to the reactor. The charge is combined with a recycle stream within the riser, vaporized, and raised to reactor temperature (900°-1,000° F) by the hot catalyst. As the mixture travels up the riser, the charge is cracked at 10-30 psi.
- In the more modern FCC units, all cracking takes place in the riser. The "reactor" no longer functions as a reactor; it merely serves as a holding vessel for the cyclones. This cracking continues until the oil vapors are separated from the catalyst in the reactor cyclones. The resultant product stream (cracked product) is then charged to a fractionating column where it is separated into fractions, and some of the heavy oil is recycled to the riser.
- Spent catalyst is regenerated to get rid of coke that collects on the catalyst during the process. Spent catalyst flows through the catalyst stripper to the regenerator, where most of the coke deposits burn off at the bottom where preheated air and spent catalyst are mixed. Fresh catalyst is added and worn-out catalyst removed to optimize the cracking process.
- The fluid cracker consists of a catalyst section and a fractionating section that operate together as an integrated processing unit. The catalyst section contains the reactor and regenerator, which, with the standpipe and riser, forms the catalyst circulation unit.