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Petroleum Processing

Hydrogenation

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Hydrogenation

Hydrogenation, or adding hydrogen to unsaturated hydrocarbons, is used for stabilization of petroleum products and aromatic reduction [1]. One particular application of hydrogenation is to saturate unstable olefins and di-olefins that are implicated in producing gums (high-molecular-weight sticky semi-solid material) during the storage of fuels, such as gasoline and jet fuel. Gum formation is detrimental, particularly, to the operation of fuel injectors in combustion engines. Narrow passages found in fuel injectors can be partially or completely plugged with deposition/accumulation of gums on flow surfaces causing engine failures. Figure 9.1 on the next page shows examples of hydrogenation of an aromatic compound (alkylated naphthalene) and an olefin. The objective of hydrogenation is just adding hydrogen to unsaturated hydrocarbons using precious metal (Pt, Pd) or Ni catalysts at low temperatures to avoid cracking or other chemical changes.


[1] Petroleum Refining, by J. H. Gary, G. E. Handwerk, M. J. Kaiser, 5th Edition, CRC Press NY, 2007, Chapter 9, Hydrotreatment, pp. 195-203.