Impurities and Catalyst Loss

When feed impurities react, this reaction wastes feed material, products, or both. Avoiding such waste is usually only possible by purifying the feed. Thus, higher feed pu rification costs must be evaluated against lower cost for raw materials, product separation, and waste disposal.

Using heterogeneous rather than homogeneous catalysts can also reduce waste from catalyst loss. Homogeneous catalysts can be difficult to separate and recycle, and this difficulty leads to waste. Heterogeneous catalysts are more common, but they degrade and need replacement. If contaminants in the feed material or recycling shortens the catalyst life, extra separation to remove those contaminants before they enter the reactor might be justified. If the catalyst is sensitive to extreme conditions such as high temperature, the following measures can help avoid local hot spots and extend the catalyst life:

• Better flow distribution

• Better heat transfer

• A catalyst diluent

• Better instrumentation and control

Fluid-bed catalytic reactors tend to lose the catalyst through attrition of the solid particles generating fines which are then lost. More effective separation and recycling of fines reduce catalyst waste to a point. Improving the mechanical strength of the catalyst is probably the best solution in the long run.

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