This report summarized the operation of the CANMET Hydrocracking Demonstration Unit, in the Petro-Canada Montreal Refinery, from commissioning to the present.

Vacuum tower bottom (VTB) was first fed to the unit in December 1985, and operation continued until March 1986. This was a period of operation without additive, in which the mechanical and process integrity of the unit was broken. First operation with CANMET additive was in May 1986, when a successful test run in the CANMET Hydrocracking mode was carried out. This run showed that operation was predictable and straight forward; and that pilot plant predictions were reliable. Conversions up to 77 wt % were documented.

Following the test run, some modifications to the Unit, including the additive preparation facilities were made and a second run was completed in November with very encouraging results.

A third run commenced on March 29, 1987, and the plant continues operation with conversions of 80 wt.% being achieved with IPPL vacuum bottoms feedstock.

Plans are to continue with operation, with long term targets to meet commercialization objectives.


The CANMET Hydrocracking Process utilizes an additive to inhibit coke formation while converting high boiling hydrocarbons into light products. The process was initially developed at the Energy Research Laboratories of the Canadian Centre for Minerals and Energy Technology (I) to upgrade oil sands bitumen and heavy oils of Canadian origin.

This hydrocracking technology has subsequently been broadened to include processing the bottom of the barrel from conventional crudes (2,3).

Petro-Canada acquired the rights to this technology from EMR in 1979, and in 1981 reached an agreement with Lavalin Inc., to jointly develop and commercialize the process. As part of the commercialization program, a decision was made in 1981 to proceed with the design and construction of a demonstration unit. The Petro-Canada Montreal refinery experience and synergisms in hydrogen supply and product utilization (7). The nominal supply of 5000 BPSD, although small. Was able to use commercial equipment, and fitted refinery operation needs.

The unit is viewed primarily as a development tool, but also as a business unit based on conventional economics. The objectives for the project as shown in Table 1.


Design and construction of the unit was undertaken by Partec Lavalin, a division of Lavalin Inc., one of Canada's largest engineering and construction firms. The Project team strongly emphasized Canadian content, and achieved 92% through use of Canadian suppliers. For example, the heavy-wall, high pressure reactor vessel (approximately 1.8 m diameter and 21 m height) represents a first of its kind to be manufactured in Canada. Cast ingots produced in Sweden were shipped to Hawker Siddley's plant in Nova Scotia where they were forged into cylinders, machined and then shipped to Versatile Vicker's Montreal shop (5). Each cylinder was fitted as required with previously overlaid nozzles. The cylinders themselves were then overlaid and subjected to intermediate post weld heat treatment.

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