STORY INLINE POST
Q: How has the industrial production of the IMP-DSD-30 catalyst evolved?
A: The IMP-DSD-30 catalyst was born out of research funded by the Energy Ministry (SENER) and National Council for Science and Technology (CONACyT). Subsequently, IMP decided to boost its investment and further research this catalyst, leading to the creation of a prototype. From there, production was ramped up. While working on this phase, we encountered more challenges during the lab work and the methodology of using analytical reagents.
IMP found a manufacturer that could help with the preparation of the catalyst at an industrial level, but we needed to optimize the synthesis procedure first. This took time because the materials used were not entirely feasible for industrial production as their toxicity posed a health risk. IMP had to review the synthesis procedure.
Another challenge was the economic aspect because the cost of the material was not competitive compared with similar materials that already existed in the market. Taking it back to the lab, we optimized the synthesis and enhanced its preparation to make it cheaper and found a material that was technically and financially viable.
Q: What role does this catalyst play in the production of ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD)?
A: PEMEX is committed to complying with low-sulfur regulation by 2025 when NOM-016-CRE-2016 comes into effect. From that moment, Mexico will only allow ultra-low sulfur diesel to be produced. IMP-DSD-30 is therefore crucial: It enables the NOC to produce this type of diesel.
For example, the hydrotreating plants at the new Olmeca Refinery in Dos Bocas are high-pressure units, meaning they can produce ultra-low-sulfur diesel without any issues. In locations where there are no high-pressure plants available, some changes in operating conditions and feed composition are required to produce ultra-low-sulfur diesel, thus affecting catalyst life and diesel production. IMP’s catalyst can solve this issue and boost Mexico’s plans for energy self-sufficiency.
Currently, ultra-low-sulfur diesel is produced by just a few refineries but the government’s goal is to make sure all refineries are capable of producing the fuel by 2025. In Mexico, not only diesel but also gasoline are imported in high amounts, so over 50 percent of the fuel we consume comes from elsewhere. To tackle this issue, PEMEX is investing to revamp refineries, improve their operations and recover their previous production levels. The IMP-DSD-30 catalyst is designed to produce ultra-low-sulfur diesel in all PEMEX’s plants without the need for further investment, allowing it to meet its 2025 commitment and reducing Mexico’s reliance on imports.
Q: How will IMP contribute to the renovation of the country’s refineries?
A: IMP is PEMEX’s technological branch. Since its beginning, technological support for the NOC has been the main objective. PEMEX validates and analyzes all the projects IMP develops. In the case of the IMP-DSD-30 catalyst, PEMEX Industrial Transformation knows the product and participated in meetings to verify its performance and results. They are aware of the benefits its application could bring and thereby approve of the industrial application.
Q: What are the plans to further develop hydrotreating catalyst production plants in Mexico?
A: This entails a parallel project for IMP. Currently, we aim to produce the catalyst in a manufacturing plant in the US as a first option. Nonetheless, IMP has been working on a project to design the construction of a plant in Mexico to produce these catalysts. The plant is already at its final design stage. Early construction is expected to begin in 2023.
Q: How does this catalyst add to IMP’s portfolio and what are your expectations for its implementation in 2023?
A: The IMP-DSD-30 catalyst is ready for commercial application and in our catalog of products. What is next is to comply with the requirements of industrial application established by PEMEX. To request participation in a public bidding process, previous industrial experience is required, which our catalyst does not have because it is a recent development. Therefore, we are fostering testing in a PEMEX plant. Once the catalyst is approved, IMP is certain that the results will be incredibly positive, and it will be able to participate in the public bidding. After that step, IMP expects the use of the catalyst to become mainstream.
The Mexican Petroleum Institute (IMP) offers competitive and valuable solutions for the national and international oil & gas industry and provides technical services and products for engineering, exploration and production.