Catalyst performance claims — perception or reality?

Hydrotreating catalysts from 2000 to 2010:

From 2000 to 2010, hydrotreating catalysts evolved in step-wise fashion, with dozens of new products claiming 20-80% higher activity. 

Those who studied published data on these products found a mix of vendor pilot plant data, customer pilot plant data, commercial data, and anecdotes of varying quality. 

Sorting through the clutter, and reducing it to an apples-to-apples competitive comparison, here is the picture that would emerge as of 2010:

Claims of new product lines with names of each CoMo flavor for ultra-low sulfur diesel service, as of 2010, for Albemarle, Criterion, and ART. SOURCE: Excerpt from Hoekstra Research Report 3, November 1, 2010

This picture of claimed performance overstated the true pace of technology advance. Some differences touted as breakthroughs were actually small changes that did not translate to step improvements in activity.

Without robust independent testing, many customers were misled by weak product claims.  Some catalysts portrayed as 20% step-ups showed no significant difference when tested apples-to-apples on a common test track, while truly better catalysts were being ignored in the market (see this post with one example of a surprising result from year 1 of our 6-year testing program).

Over time, commercial experience confirmed that perception and reality were very different. The frequent introduction of new product lines, and the tailoring of catalysts for special applications, led to confused customers, distorted perceptions of competitive performance, and poor economic choices.

Fast forward to 2022:

Today, catalyst buyers still want reliable independent third-party testing to validate and cross-reference claims of catalyst suppliers.  Otherwise, they are forced to rely too heavily on vendor data, anecdotes, and misleading marketing claims for critical reload decisions. Catalyst testing continues to be, by far, the highest-demand use for refining pilot plants. This has not changed, and won’t, as long as we keep making fuels from crude oil. That’s why we have tested 44 catalyst so far in our ongoing multi-client program and will continue to test new catalysts whenever there is a need.

Hoekstra Research Report 3

Which catalysts are you considering for upcoming reloads? We have the hard data and knowledge base to help you do a good apples-to-apples comparison of their profit impact on your unit.

If you’re not yet in our user group, your first step is to buy Hoekstra Research Report 3. It is easy to do . . no contracts, no lawyers, no non-disclosure agreements are needed. Just use the sample invoice in this brochure as a template to prepare a purchase order to buy Report 3. Then convince your boss to sign it, and E-mail the PO to us today.

For $50,000, you will get Report 3 at the speed of light and immediate access to $1,600,000 of scientific information and technical service that will help you make your refinery’s best-ever catalyst reload decisions in 2022. Don’t live for years with inferior results just because you decided to try to do the job without this inexpensive, quality tool.

George Hoekstra

+1 630 330-8159

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Hoekstra Trading LLC