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DCR™ Pilot Plant Creates Opportunities in Oman

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Scott Purnell, Vice President, Grace FCC R&D

Unique collaboration advances regional FCC catalyst research, education, and employment.

Grace delivered a DCR™ Pilot Plant to its equilibrium catalyst evaluation (Ecat) lab at Sohar University in the Sultanate of Oman in early September.

On Sep. 8, representatives from Grace, Sohar University and Oman’s national oil company, OQ, gathered along with lab employees in the auditorium of Sohar University for a ceremony to mark the arrival of the pilot plant and the next phase in a collaboration designed to enhance knowledge, share best practices and develop new fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) catalysts. 

This significant investment expands the Grace laboratory from a purely analytical focus into the realm of catalyst research. It also provides significant in-country value (ICV) to the Sultanate of Oman through the creation of jobs, teaching, and research opportunities for Sohar University.

Scott Purnell

VP, FCC R&D, W. R. Grace & Co

Grace first established the Ecat lab in the Sultanate of Oman as part of a unique partnership between the company, Sohar University and OQ several years ago. Since then, in addition to serving Grace customers in the region, the university has utilized the lab to establish teaching modules for engineering students. The addition of a DCR™ Pilot Plant helps to support more advanced FCC catalyst evaluation in the region.

“It’s very exciting to move the unique partnership between Grace, Sohar University and OQ to the next level with the installation and commissioning of a Grace DCR™ Pilot Plant,” said Scott Purnell, Vice President, R&D. “This significant investment expands the Grace laboratory from a purely analytical focus into the realm of catalyst research. It also provides significant in-country value (ICV) to the Sultanate of Oman through the creation of jobs, teaching and research opportunities for Sohar University as well as targeted profitability studies for OQ’s refining operations.”

With this new tool, the laboratory will add a research focus to its current analytical capabilities. In addition, the Ecat lab’s employees are predominantly Omani women (six of eight employees), which is the focus of a national inclusion initiative to engage women at the university and in the broader Omani workforce.

At the arrival ceremony, Dr. Hamdan Al-Fazari, the Vice Chancellor of Sohar University said the project is “a major initiative in the history of universities in the country and marks a great milestone as it enhances students’ industrial experience, raising the impact of research and development, and helping the University to build global presence. In addition, the project will create more job opportunities for Omani citizens, and it will help to improve the ICV.”

Thus far, Grace has worked in the region to develop a silo hub, Ecat lab, spent cat disposal capabilities, and now the DCR™ Pilot Plant, all with the goal of bringing value to the region and the industry.

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