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New hydrogen reactions lab at Air Products now operational

Air Products’ Hydrogen Reactions Lab, located at its corporate headquarters in Allentown, Penn.,ย U.S.A.,ย is now operational and receiving material for laboratory trials. The new lab consists of three continuous, trickle bed reactors and has the design capability to handle hydrotreatment and hydrogenation reactions at pressures up to 2000 psig. The new lab enables customers to optimize existing hydrogenation and hydrotreatment reactions or switch from batch to continuous operation.

Air Products’ Hydrogen Reactions Lab has been designed to test the hydrogenation of various feedstocks with up to three fixed-bed catalytic reactors. The company is able to evaluate for its customers the impact of feed quality, catalysts, and additional operating parameters on product quality, throughput and process economics.

“Hydrotreatment is a growing trend in the used oil re-refining and transmix processing markets,” says Tim Lebrecht, applications engineer at Air Products. “With Group II base oil becoming the norm for re-refiners and ULSD limits on sulfur for transmix-derived diesel fuel, both areas are seeing an immediate need for polishing and sulfur reduction techniques.”

“Similarly, in the chemicals processing industry, hydrogenation units have begun focusing on the cost reduction that continuous processes offer,” Lebrecht continued. “Our new lab will help customers pursue the higher yields, better product quality and, ultimately, the reduction in scale that is common when switching to continuous processes. We look forward to working with them to test and optimize hydrotreatment, as well as assist those who are looking to switch to continuous hydrogenation.”

Hydrotreatment and hydrogenation are commonly used to produce a wide variety of different products, including low-sulfur, low-impurity fuel; high-quality lubricating base oils; hydrogenated vegetable oil; and specialty chemicals used in industrial, personal care and pharmaceutical applications. The reaction is often carried out with high-pressure hydrogen gas in the presence of a custom catalyst to drive the reaction.

A key trend across many specialty chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing processes is the transition from batch to continuous processing to enable a multitude of benefits, including higher yield, better selectivity and a smaller footprint.