Fluid catalytic cracking technology: current status and recent discoveries on catalyst contamination

Peng Bai, Ubong Jerome Etim, Zifeng Yan*, Svetlana Mintova, Zhongdong Zhang, Ziyi Zhong, Xionghou Gao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


The fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) technology is one of the pillars of the modern petroleum industry which converts the crude oil fractions into many commodity fuels and platform chemicals, such as gasoline. Although the FCC field is quite mature, the research scope is still enormous due to changing FCC feedstock, gradual shifts in market demands and evolved unit operations. In this review, we have described the current status of FCC technology, such as variation in the present day feedstocks and catalysts, and particularly, great attention is paid to the effects of various contaminants of the FCC catalysts of which the latter part has not been sufficiently documented and analyzed in the literature yet. Deposition of various contaminants on cracking catalyst during FCC process, including metals, sulfur, nitrogen and coke originated from feedstocks or generated during FCC reaction constitutes a source of concern to the petroleum refiners from both economic and technological perspectives. It causes not only undesirable effects on the catalysts themselves, but also reduction in catalytic activity and changes in product distribution of the FCC reactions, translating into economic losses. The metal contaminants (vanadium (V), nickel (Ni), iron (Fe) and sodium (Na)) have the most adverse effects that can seriously influence the catalyst structure and performance. Although nitrogen and sulfur are considered less harmful compared to the metal contaminants, it is shown that pore blockage by the coking effect of sulfur and acid sites neutralization by nitrogen are serious problems too. Most recent studies on the deactivation of FCC catalysts at single particle level have provided an in-depth understanding of the deactivation mechanisms. This work will provide the readers with a comprehensive understanding of the current status, related problems and most recent progress made in the FCC technology, and also will deepen insights into the catalyst deactivation mechanisms caused by contaminants and the possible technical approaches to controlling catalyst deactivation problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-405
Number of pages73
JournalCatalysis Reviews - Science and Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2019


  • Fluid catalytic cracking catalyst
  • catalytic activity
  • contaminants
  • deactivation


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