Recycling of metal-containing catalysts from the petroleum industry

Treibacher Industrie AG specialises in the recycling of spent, metal-containing (V, Ni, Mo) catalysts from the petroleum industry. The company produces alloying additives from these secondary raw materials.

The catalysts used in the Treibacher recycling process are only a few millimetres in size and are used in refineries to clean the crude oil and filter out unwanted impurities such as metals (e.g. vanadium, nickel) and sulphur.

Once the catalysts are saturated, they are replaced and either disposed of or – as in this case – recycled. Every year, around 20,000 tonnes of these catalysts arrive at Treibacher Industrie AG and are “roasted” in a rotary kiln, whereby almost no additional energy needs to be added because the catalysts still have oil attached to them. The process produces several (by-)products that are reused within the company:

– Vanadium, nickel and molybdenum – these secondary raw materials form the basis for many products of Treibacher Industrie AG, above all ferroalloys for the global steel industry.
– Aluminium oxide – the carrier material from which the catalysts are made is subsequently converted internally into calcium aluminate and also sold to the steel industry.
– Sulphur – released in the process is converted in-house into a feedstock needed in another of the company’s production operations.
– Thermal energy – in the hot exhaust air, is used plant-wide for electricity generation and heating.

The recycling rate of 99% corresponds to a virtually residue-free recovery of important resources. Especially since the primary raw materials (vanadium, nickel and molybdenum) would have to be sourced from mines in China, South Africa, Brazil and the USA.

The recovery of valuable materials is a future field with potential for Treibacher Industrie AG. Despite the overall decline in demand for fossil fuels, processes for refining and cleaning heavy crude oils will continue to be needed. Recycling is therefore a win-win-win situation for the refineries, the company itself and the environment. On the one hand, the catalysts do not have to be disposed of at great expense and landfilled, and on the other hand, a large part of the raw material requirements for Treibacher Industrie AG can be covered as a result – using secondary raw materials instead of mining and transporting 500,000 tonnes of ore per year.

Auer-von-Welsbach-Straße 1
9330 Althofen, Österreich
Contact to your Solution
Marcel Ambrusch
Produktmanager Recycling