A challenging hot topic faced by the oil refinery industry is the upgrading of low-quality distillate fractions, such as light cycle oil (LCO), in order to meet current quality standards for diesel fuels. An auspicious technological alternative entails the complete saturation of the aromatic structures followed by the selective cleavage of endocyclic carbon-carbon bonds in the formed naphthenic rings (selective ring opening—SRO). This work reports the influence of Brønsted acid sites of platinum-ultra stable Y zeolite (Pt-USY) catalysts in the SRO of decalin as a model naphthenic feed. A maximum combined yield to selective ring opening products (ROP: C10-alkylcycloalkanes + OCD: C10-alkanes) as high as 28.6 wt% was achieved for 1.6Pt-NaUSY-im catalyst. The molar carbon distribution curve of the hydrocracked (C9-
) products varied from M-shaped for 1.4Pt-USY-im catalyst, indicating mainly C–C bond cleavage of the ring opening products with one remaining naphthenic ring via carbocations and the paring reaction, to not M-shaped for the 1.6Pt-NaUSY-im catalyst, where carbon-carbon bond cleavage occurs preferentially through a hydrogenolysis mechanism on metal sites. High (hydro)thermal stability and secondary mesoporosity of the 1.6Pt-NaUSY-im catalysts make this system highly prospective for upgrading low-quality real distillate feeds.
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