Hydrodesulfurization (HDS) using a catalyst at high temperature with high pressure hydrogen has been a process of choice for sulfur removal from liquid fuels in large refineries.However this process is too expensive for use in refineries, particularly small refineries, and requires significant catalyst investment for removing sulfur down to low ppmw levels to meet new standards. The reason is that it is inefficient for desulfurizing large sterically hindered thiophenic compounds such as 4, 6 dimethyl dibenzo thiophene.

Mild oxidative desulfurization (ODS) processes are attractive and have been under development by several companies. In ODS, the sulfur compounds in the fuel are selectively oxidized at low temperature and pressure to a sulfoxide or sulfone that can be easily separated from the fuel. ODS processes have the potential to treat sterically hindered large thiophenic sulfur compounds highly efficiently and have an excellent fit with both large and small refineries due to low cost.

Thus they are likely to be the future processes of choice for
• Bulk desulfurization in small refineries and terminals.
• Polishing desulfurization downstream of hydrodesulfurization in large refineries.

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