Hydrocracking is one of the most essential catalytic processes in the oil industry for the conversion of heavy fractions of petroleum (light and heavy vacuum gas oil, demetallized oil) and renewable hydrocarbon feedstocks to high-quality fuels. Hydrocracking relies on a bifunctional catalytic process that combines catalytic cracking and hydrogenation steps. In principle, hydrocracking is aimed to convert heavy and ultraheavy oils with maximum fuel selectivity and minimum formation of light gases and polyaromatic compounds, from this high activity and selectivity of the catalyst, is achieved by finding a good balance between its acidic and hydrogenation properties. For this study, platinum catalyst impregnated on alumina was applied for hydrogenation reaction, whereas cracking function was accomplished by ultrastable Y (USY) zeolite. The central objective of the thesis was to study the fundamental effect of extra framework aluminum (EFAl) species forming with the hydrothermal treatment of USY on hydrocracking of selected model compound – n-hexadecane. Three commercial USY zeolites with different SiO2/Al2O3 ratios were steamed until they reached down to the conversion curve of the reference USY sample physically mixed with 1% Pt supported on alumina in a 1:10 ratio. XRD patterns showed that the crystalline faujasite structure was kept after steaming. In the physisorption of argon, slight changes were observed in surface area and pore volumes which were correlated to the structural collapse of the zeolite framework. Dealumination of the zeolite framework was verified by 27Al MAS NMR. FTIR spectroscopy of pyridine adsorption and TPD of ammonia were employed to investigate the acidity of the samples. From the results, it was found that the concentration of Brønsted acid sites was the main contributor to the activity-acidity relationship in n-hexadecane hydrocracking. To gain more insight into the relationship, samples were subjected to n-hexane cracking. Turnover frequency analysis supported the proposal about hydrocracking reaction and also revealed the chemical influence of EFAl on Brønsted acidity observed in catalytic cracking of hexane.
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