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Refining Technologies

From volatile feedstock prices to changing regulations, refinery operators face many challenges. KBR delivers innovative and cost-effective refining technologies that help operators stay competitive.

Our licensed technology can be found in more than half the world’s fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) units, a majority of resid upgrading units, and more than 100 hydroprocessing units around the world. With an emphasis on heavy oil upgrading, improving bottom-of-the-barrel yields, clean fuels and operating flexibility, we work with our customers to provide new and better ways to deliver cost-effective solutions for superior performance.

“We work with our customers to provide new and better ways to deliver cost-effective solutions for superior performance.”

KBR knows refining, and we’ve developed our portfolio of refining technologies to enable operators to process a wide variety of crudes while staying flexible to adjust fuel mix and quality according to changing market demands. Covering the spectrum from hydrotreating to hydrocracking to FCC and further upgrading and conversion, we license a range of leading and proprietary refining technologies that address today’s refining challenges.


Bottom-of-the-Barrel and Residue Upgrading Solutions

Bottom-of-the-barrel (BoB) in refining refers to the heavy residues in crude oil. Historically, the main use has been as fuel for the shipping industry (bunker fuel) and power generation. Demand for residual fuel oil has decreased for many decades, making it one of the lowest value streams from refining. With the IMO2020 sulfur regulation for marine bunker fuels, demand will decrease drastically again. Refiners globally are looking into options for fuel oil reduction or elimination all the way to a “bottomless” refinery, resulting in strong demand for bottom-of-the-barrel technologies.


Our Residuum Oil Supercritical Extraction (ROSE®) solvent deasphalting technology recovers high-value products from residue streams that would otherwise be lost to low-value fuel oils. ROSE uses up to 60% less energy with supercritical solvent recovery and specially designed heat recovery exchangers.


Our Veba Combi-Cracking (VCC) technology was developed through decades of research and innovation, resulting in this unique solution capable of processing a variety of feedstocks — from refinery residues to coal. With 95% conversion in a single pass, VCC enables production of fuels that meet environmental specifications without further upgrading.


Our Asphaltene integrated Management Solution (AiMS) offers the opportunity to solidify the asphaltene removed in the ROSE process for easier handling and sales.


Our Asphaltene integrated Generation System (AiGSSM) enables use of the pitch generated from the ROSE process for steam and power generation.

Resid FCC

Our Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) technology is based on decades of continuous improvements and broad commercial experience and can be designed specifically to handle heavier residues for upgrading into valuable components.

Clean Fuel and High-Octane Solutions

Global demand for motor fuels continues to rise to record levels, while stricter environmental standards and oxygenate blend requirements for gasoline place a premium on clean-burning, low Reid Vapor Pressure components.


A safer, low-cost alternative for high-quality alkylate production, featuring a revolutionary solid catalyst engineered to overcome stability limitations, maximize the yield of motor fuels and enhance the production of ultra-clean blendstock.


The technology of choice for low-cost production of high-octane isomerate free of benzene and other aromatics, oxygenates and olefins. Features a compact, energy-efficient design using a regenerable catalyst that isomerizes and separates the iso-paraffin products and efficiently recycles n-paraffins within the same distillation column.


A proven technology for dimerization of isobutylene to iso-octene and hydrogenate to iso-octane. Produces clean-burning, non-aromatic hydrocarbons with premium octane values from a wide variety of C4 feedstocks at minimum costs. Yields an olefinic or completely saturated product to increase production of higher grades, and adapting to produce MTBE, ETBE and more.


The optimum process technologies for producing fuel ethers from C5–C7 tertiary olefins, combining fixed-bed reactors with a distillation column to reach extremely high conversion rates, form TAME and TAEE, and yield a product mixture with maximal fuel ethers and unreacted hydrocarbons that can be used as a component in reformulated gasoline.


Our combined ethers technology capable of processing any olefinic hydrocarbon feed in the C4–C7 range to produce MTBE, TAME and heavier ethers, as well as ETBE and TAEE in a single unit and at a low cost by bringing together alcohol recovery and circulation with oxygenate removal.

Petrochemical Integration & Olefin Yields

Petrochemical demand is expected to outpace growth in traditional refining capacity in the decades ahead. Refineries can benefit from increased production of naphtha — a main feedstock for the production of olefins and aromatics — attractive margins and price stability from increasing yields for ethylene, propylene and aromatics.


This FCC process enables refiners to maximize propylene production by 20% or more with significantly less ethylene than traditional steam cracking, with flexibility to operate as a conventional FCC to produce gasoline, depending on changing market demands.


Our catalytic olefin technology converts low-value olefinic, paraffinic or mixed streams into high-value propylene, ethylene and aromatics through the combination of the KBR Orthoflow™ FCC reactor system and a proprietary catalyst, and offers feed flexibility, high yields, low maintenance and greater energy efficiency.


An extractive distillation process for the recovery of aromatics that does not require any proprietary solvents or additives. It offers lower CAPEX and OPEX, smaller plot space, reduced energy consumption and wider feedstock range compared to conventional liquid-liquid extraction processes. Can be integrated into refining and petrochemical operations.

FCC Technologies

Modern refineries are focused on expanding their conversion capacities. The Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) is important because it converts larger, heavier molecules into shorter, more valuable molecules like gasoline, distillate and olefinic gases. KBR has been on the forefront of FCC developments since the 1940s and continues to provide a wide array of proprietary and specialized solutions for refineries worldwide.

FCC General

KBR delivers a portfolio of FCC solutions to meet refiners’ specific production goals, with flexibility to adjust their product mix for market conditions. We offer FCC options for increasing propylene production, maximizing diesel production, minimizing environmental issues, processing low value residue streams and processing bio-feed and other non-traditional feed stocks.


This FCC process enables refiners to maximize propylene production by 20% or more with significantly less ethylene than traditional steam cracking, and it provides the flexibility to operate as a conventional FCC to produce gasoline depending on changing market demands.


Our flexible, cost-efficient FCC solution repurposes existing FCC units to increase diesel yields with a reduced capital investment. Turns high-quality, light-cycle oil into higher cetane products while offering the flexibility to revert to maximum octane barrels or maximum liquefied petroleum gas.

Hydroprocessing Solutions

Hydroprocessing technologies include a wide array of hydrogenation, hydrocracking and hydrotreating solutions that can be found in all major refinery product streams. They are based on the use of hydrogen to remove impurities, resulting in cleaner products, or to break down carbon-carbon bonds, resulting in shorter, more valuable molecules.


Shell Global Solutions’ hydrotreating process, licensed by KBR, combines advanced process technology, high-performance catalyst systems and efficient internal reactor designs. Oil fractions react with hydrogen with a catalyst to produce high-value, clean products. Available in several configurations, including for hydrotreating of naphtha, kerosene, diesel and VGO.

Mild Hydrocracking

Shell Global Solutions’ hydrocracking technology, licensed by KBR, processes a wide range of feed qualities at different conversion levels, while meeting stringent fuel quality regulations. Heavy gas oil fractions are partially converted to produce high-quality middle distillate products, while the unconverted fractions are used as pretreated FCC or ethylene cracker feedstocks, or lubricant base oils.

Full Conversion Hydrocracking

Shell Global Solutions’ hydrocracking technology, licensed by KBR, maximizes premium diesel production from a wide range of feedstock qualities. We offer both single- and two-stage designs with each tailored to the type of feedstock, the capacity of the unit and the specific processing objectives to help optimize both capital and operating costs.


For more than 60 years, KBR has used catalytic steam reforming to manufacture hydrogen, ammonia, methanol, syngas and HYCO (hydrogen and carbon dioxide). We have provided design and construction services for more than 34 low-energy, low-cost refinery hydrogen plants and can offer a customized solution including the KBR top-fired Steam Methane Reformer (SMR) optionally with the KBR Reforming Exchanger System (KRES™) depending on site steam and CO2 capture requirements.

Distillation Capacity

Distillation capacity controls the overall refinery throughput potential. Distillation is the separation of crude oil into different products based on their physical properties, like boiling point.


Our advanced distillation configuration combines two distillation columns within a single shell to enable three or more products to be separated from a feed stream, offering superior fractionation performance and enhanced separation efficiency.

Crude and Vacuum Distillation

Shell Global Solutions technology, licensed by KBR, can help refiners improve their distillation performance and debottleneck their operations through the licensing of bulk crude distillation units, high-vacuum units, work-up sections for upgrading units and column and vessel internals.

Refining Technologies Opportunities

The people of KBR change the world every day, providing the intelligence to solve any challenge. If you’re up to the task, we want you on our team.

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