Air Products is building a hydrogen lab at its corporate headquarters in Allentown, Pennsylvania that will support the fast growing oil recycling industry.

A key feature of the new lab is a hydrotreatment unit capable of performing high pressure and high temperature hydrogenation reactions. Air Products will use the new lab – scheduled to be operational in third quarter 2015 – to help oil recyclers optimise their hydrotreatment processes.

Hydrotreatment reaction is widely used to produce various products such as low sulfur fuel, high quality lubricating base oils, hydrogenated vegetable oil, and specialty chemicals used in industrial, personal care, and pharmaceutical applications.

The reaction is often carried out with high pressure hydrogen gas in the presence of a custom-made catalyst that enables the reaction.

Air Products’ new hydrotreatment unit has been designed to test the hydrogenation of various feedstocks over continuous flow fixed-bed catalytic reactors. The company will use it to evaluate for its customers the impact of feed quality, catalysts, and other operating parameters on product quality, throughput, and process economics.

“If hydrotreatment is not carried out under optimal conditions, an inferior quality of base oil is produced that has to be either reprocessed or sold at a discounted price,” said Dr. Vipul Dholakia, Senior Applications Engineer at Air Products.

“The testing capability of the new hydrogen lab, combined with our knowledge and experience as a hydrogenation reaction and gas applications leader, will enable us to help oil recyclers increase profitability by improving their product quality and processing efficiency.”

The new hydrogen lab will be used not only to improve the commercial used oil hydrotreatment process, but also to develop other applications, such as biofuel hydrogenation and continuous hydrogenation to replace batch hydrogenation of specialty chemicals.