Once loaded and activated, the catalyst is available for exploitation in various ways, depending on the economic opportunities open to the refiner or petrochemical plant. Although it can be economically attractive to operate the catalyst outside the guarantee conditions for a while, this inevitably voids any supplier guarantees. It is advisable to occasionally conduct a performance test run, to assess the remaining catalyst activity and life and prepare for any catalyst change out. Understanding the performance in the unit as a function of prior operating conditions will also generate useful data for a subsequent cycle with a similar or adjusted loading diagram.
At the end of the catalyst cycle, the spent catalyst needs to be unloaded for reuse or elimination. It is important to prepare the shutdown carefully to ensure that the spent catalyst is conditioned optimally for further processing. Following shutdown, specialised catalyst-handling companies will unload the reactor. It is essential to keep track of the location inside the reactor where the catalyst originated. It is a best practice to number the drums by reactor bed and identify the catalyst types, drum number and reactor and bed IDs on a clear label. This will help with cost-effective analysis of the spent catalyst and in distinguishing between a good-quality catalyst for reuse and a contaminated catalyst for elimination.
Catalyst Intelligence can advise on unloading strategy, packaging and labelling of the spent catalyst, plus analysis of the spent catalyst and laboratory analysis and regeneration to determine suitability of the material for reuse. After regeneration and/or rejuvenation, the catalyst destined for reuse should be sampled and analysed to determine whether the service provider has met the guarantees.