Special Issue "Fluid Catalytic Cracking"

A special issue of Catalysts (ISSN 2073-4344).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 15 May 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Maen Husein Website E-Mail
Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
Interests: Heavy oil and bitumen upgrading; thermal cracking; hydrocracking; nanoparticle application for catalysis, enhanced oil recovery, drilling fluids, and cement; wastewater treatment

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Fluid catalytic cracking is an important unit for residue conversion into more useful light fractions. The H:C ratio of the product is increased through rejecting carbon atoms from the feed. Unconventional oil, including heavy oil and bitumen, constitutes more than 50 per cent of the current proven oil reserves and their market share is growing. These oils contribute large volumes of residue when processed through refineries, imposing high loads on upgrading units, including fluid catalytic cracking. Hence, there is a need for more effective upgrading units.

Despite its long history, the functionality of fluid catalytic cracking may be promoted by advancing catalyst technology, alteration of the process design and/or coupling with other upgrading processes.  

Traditional fluid catalytic crack catalysts can be doped with nanoparticle promoters, which may alter the selectivity of the cracking reactions and reduce coke formation. Moreover, a conventional catalyst material may possibly be reduced in size to a nano-scale material. At this scale, and given the operating temperature of the unit, particle aggregation as well as catalyst regeneration, collection and recycling should be properly addressed. There is also room for introducing novel catalysts or even eliminating the need for a catalyst, while still operating at reasonable temperatures and pressures. Pathways for coke recycling and/or elimination from the product stream in the absence of a catalyst also need to be considered.

Alteration of the process design relates to catalyst arrangement, e.g. fluidized bed, fixed bed, etc. It may potentially lead to proposing slurry-type liquid phase reactions as potential substituents to the traditionally high temperature gaseous-phase fluid catalytic crackers. Proper residence times and reactor volumes should be kept in mind to enable new units to easily function within the existing refinery platform.

Coupling fluid catalytic cracking with other upgrading processes may give rise to new processes suited, in addition to refineries, to stand-alone operation. Stand-alone processes are effective for providing on-site partial upgrading, which is essential for achieving pumpable oil standards, especially given the volumes of high viscosity oil produced nowadays.

Prof. Maen Husein
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Catalysts is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Thermal cracking and catalytic cracking
  • Residue conversion
  • Partial upgrading
  • Hydrogen donor molecules and solvents
  • Fluidized bed reactors
  • Packed bed reactors
  • Coking
  • Catalyst poisoning
  • Heteroatom removal

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Partial Upgrading of Athabasca Bitumen Using Thermal Cracking
Catalysts 2019, 9(5), 431; https://doi.org/10.3390/catal9050431 - 09 May 2019
The current industry practice is to mix bitumen with a diluent in order to reduce its viscosity before it can be pumped to refineries and upgraders. The recovery of the diluent and its recycling to the producers, on the other hand, pose major [...] Read more.
The current industry practice is to mix bitumen with a diluent in order to reduce its viscosity before it can be pumped to refineries and upgraders. The recovery of the diluent and its recycling to the producers, on the other hand, pose major environmental and economic concerns. Hence, onsite partial upgrading of the extracted bitumen to pipeline specifications presents an attractive alternative. In this work, thermal cracking of Athabasca bitumen was carried out in an autoclave at 400 °C, 420 °C and 440 °C in presence and absence of drill cuttings catalyst. At 400 °C, despite no coke formation, the reduction in viscosity was insufficient, whereas at 440 °C, the coke yield was significant, ~20 wt.%. A balance between yield and viscosity was found at 420 °C, with 88 ± 5 wt.% liquid, ~5 wt.% coke and a liquid viscosity and °API gravity of 60 ± 20 cSt and 23 ± 3, respectively. Additionally, the sulfur content and the Conradson carbon residue were reduced by 25% and 10%, respectively. The catalytic thermal cracking at 420 °C further improved the quality of the liquid product to 40 ± 6 cSt and 25 ± 2 °API gravity, however at slightly lower liquid yield of 86 ± 6 wt.%. Both catalytic and non-catalytic cracking provide a stable liquid product, which by far exceeds pipeline standards. Although small relative to the energy required for upgrading in general, the pumping energy requirement for the partially upgraded bitumen was 3 times lower than that for diluted bitumen. Lastly, a 5-lump, 6-reaction, kinetic model developed earlier by our group successfully predicted the conversion of the bitumen to the different cuts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fluid Catalytic Cracking)
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