Faces of MACBETH – Tüpraş team

  • 03/07/2024

1) Tell us about Tüpraş and Tüpraş’ role in the project 

Tüpraş is Türkiye’s leading energy producer, the largest industrial company, and the 7th largest refinery in Europe, with an annual crude oil processing capacity of 30 million tons across its 4 refineries.  Guided by its motto «Energy for the Future» our company is leading the transformation for a sustainable world, in line with its Strategic Transition Plan announced in 2022. Tüpraş has committed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050 and accordingly, focuses on 4 business lines: sustainable refining, biofuels, zero carbon electricity and green H2 field.

Tüpraş plans to dedicate a large part of its investments to new energy sources such as sustainable aviation fuels, green hydrogen, and zero-carbon electricity. Contributing to its strategic goals, Tüpraş takes part in many innovative EU projects, such as MACBETH, aiming to develop processes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Tüpraş takes part in PDH case in MACBETH project and has two main roles. The first role that was defined during the project proposal phase is to scale up the best performing Pt based PDH catalyst, studied and defined by another project partner University of Salerno (UNISA) in lab scale for use in Tüpraş PDH pilot plant. The second role that was decided after the last amendment is to demonstrate PDH at TRL 6 by testing the developed membrane and catalyst in MACBETH project. Tüpraş has manufactured different catalyst formulations using the Pt based benchmark catalyst defined by UNISA. Promising PDH catalysts shaped via extrusion process and impregnated by Tüpraş, considering the final catalyst compositions defined by UNISA, were tested in Tüpraş PDH plant after various reaction tests, Tüpraş finally achieved the project target of 95% propylene selectivity and the catalyst remained stable in the long term. Hence, in the present stage, Tüpraş identified the optimum catalyst formulation and reaction conditions to reach the project targets. Tüpraş is going to manufacture up to 1 kg of the best performing catalyst to be used in pilot operation. On the other hand, Tüpraş is also working on the revamp of its current plant to TRL-6 level for integrated Catalytic Membrane Reactor (CMR) and its pilot operation.

From left to right

Feriye Şenol Kaptı- R&D Technical Lead /Project & Incentive Management;

Gizem İş- R&D Researcher/Reaction;

Irmak Su Ökten- R&D Researcher /Materials;

Dr. Cem Açıksarı- R&D Technical Lead/Materials;

Merve Caner- R&D Senior Researcher/Operations & Quality Management;

Dr. Tuğba Özaltın- R&D Technical Lead /Operations & Quality Management;

Oktay Tunus- R&D Technical Lead/Maintanance;

Dr. Serdar Çelebi- R&D Chapter Lead /Materials and Reaction


2) Shortly present of each team member

Dr. Cem Açıksarı has been working as a task leader in PDH catalyst scaling up activities such as compositional design of catalyst, support shaping, metal impregnation and characterization in the Macbeth project since 2019, when the project preparation phase was carried out. He received all his academic degrees in materials science discipline from Anadolu University in Türkiye. He has been working at Tüpraş R&D Center for the last seven years and is currently working as a technical leader in the materials technologies research department.

Gizem İş is working as a researcher at TUPRAS R&D department in reaction expertise since 2022 August. She received her bachelor’s degree at Hacettepe University and master’s degree at Koç University in chemical engineering. She has been working in Macbeth project one and half year. She is responsible for performing catalytic PDH tests and evaluation of performance results in terms of propane conversion and propylene selectivity, demo/pilot plant design and membrane integrated final PDH demonstration at TRL-6 within the scope of Macbeth Project.

Irmak Su Ökten Acar is working as researcher at TUPRAS R&D department since September of 2022.  She received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in in material science and engineering. Since 2021, she has been continuing her PhD education at Eskisehir Technical University, Department of Material Science and Engineering. She has been working in Macbeth project for the last 1.5 years. Areas of expertise in project include shaping of catalyst bodies, metal impregnation on support, scaling up of catalysts and materials characterization techniques.

Dr. Serdar Çelebi is working as a Material & Reaction Technology Lead at TUPRAS R&D department since 2012 January. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Middle East Technical University. Then he received his Master’s degree from Koç University in Material Science & Engineering. He completed his PhD study in Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands. He has been working in Macbeth project since it is started. He is responsible for the technical management of Tüpraş activities in MACBETH.

Dr. Tuğba Özaltın is working as R&D technical lead and responsible for operations and quality management at Tüpraş R&D laboratory and pilot plant facilities. She received her bachelor’s, M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry from Boğaziçi University. She started her carrier in Tüpraş in 2018 and has been taking part in Macbeth project since 2 years. She is responsible for the safe operation and organization of project activities taking place in the laboratory and pilot plant area.

Merve Caner is working as R&D Senior Researcher at Tüpraş R&D laboratory. She received her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Yıldız Technical University. Then she received her Master’s degree in Analytical Chemistry from Istanbul Technical University. She has been continuing her PhD at Istanbul Technical University, Department of Earth science. She has been taking part in Macbeth for 5 months. She is responsible for the characterization of catalysts.

Feriye Şenol Kaptı has been working at Tüpraş R&D Center for seven years. She is working as R&D Technical Lead and responsible for project and incentive management of national and international funded R&D projects. She received her bachelor’s and M.Sc. degrees in chemistry from Middle East Technical University. She has been working in Macbeth project since 2021 and is responsible for administrative and financial management of the project.

Oktay Tunus has been working at Tüpraş R&D Center for 6 years. He manages the technical processes to ensure the sustainable and smooth operation of systems and projects in the laboratories. He also manages the maintenance schedules of all systems in the laboratory. He is an automotive engineer and has a master’s degree.


3) What was your biggest challenge for you as a team on the project so far?

As mentioned earlier, Tüpraş has committed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and become carbon neutral by 2050. By producing zero-carbon electricity and green hydrogen, we’re committed to a clean energy transition and a 27% reduction in our carbon footprint by 2030. We are taking firm steps towards our target. As the energy industry’s first and only research and development center, we aim to be an innovation hub, creating our own technology.

Tüpraş’s first role in Macbeth Project is to scale up the best performing Pt based PDH catalyst, studied and defined by another project partner University of Salerno (UNISA) in lab scale for use in PDH pilot plant at TRL 7. Experimental studies between 2020 and 2022 have been so challenging, as catalyst development and scale-up activities had to be carried out during a period of frequent Covid-19-related shutdowns. In addition, it was another challenging step to be able to produce commercial grade catalyst support, which was defined at TRL 4-5 by catalyst development partner UNISA, with a similar reaction performance at the pilot scale reactor. As a result of the experimental studies carried out in cooperation with UNISA particularly in the last two years, the final catalyst composition with the best performance was determined by using both commercial grade catalyst support and catalyst support developed and shaped by Tüpraş. The project target was achieved in terms of propane conversion, propylene selectivity and stability by using the scaled-up catalysts. After the last amendment, Tüpraş took up membrane integrated PDH demonstration role and started its catalyst scale-up activities and revamp of its current plant to bring its level to TRL-6 for pilot operation. Now, all the items are integrated, and system is brought to be ready for pilot operation. The design process of the pilot plant and procurement of the required items with proper specifications in short time and successful integration to the system was challenging. Thanks to our contractor and dedicated team members, to operate the system in a most efficient way, aiming high propane conversion and above 95% propylene selectivity, Tüpraş put a lot of efforts in design of the pilot plant and finally completed the revamp of the plant successfully.


4) What is your biggest success/achievement for you as a team on the project so far?

Tüpraş manufactured catalysts with different Pt and Sn compositions and tested their performance in terms of propane conversion and selectivity in its plant to be able to define optimum catalyst formulation and scale-up compositions. The main target was firstly to achieve 95% propylene selectivity with good stability as UNISA benchmark catalyst. Final best performing scaled up PDH catalyst showed promising conversion and stability, 95% propylene selectivity was achieved under the test reaction conditions 550 °C, atmospheric pressure (Figure 1). The catalyst was regenerated by following the methodology defined by UNISA for the benchmark catalyst. After regeneration of the catalyst, it was observed that catalyst gained the activity and reach similar results with the fresh catalyst. In case of catalyst support shaped by Tüpraş, Tüpraş tuned the reaction parameters and catalyst composition since PDH test results could not reach the targets when tests performed with the optimal compositions previously defined for commercial support . On the other hand, Tüpraş also evaluated the Pt costs from an industrial point of view and conducted comprehensive research on whether it can achieve the project targets by decreasing Pt loading. Catalysts support shaped by Tüpraş showed promising activity results and reached project targets under 550 °C, atmospheric pressure and optimized space velocity. As a conclusion, one of the biggest achievements of Tüpraş is optimizing the catalyst formulations for two types of supports, and decide the final Pt-Sn compositions to be scaled up and demonstrated at TRL 6. In the meantime, Tüpraş successfully designed and completed the revamp of its current plant for pilot operation to be carried out within near future. The images of the unit before and after the revamp are given in Figure 2.  The pilot plant is currently ready for operation, and this could be another major success of Tüpraş in this project.

Figure 1. One of the scaled-up PDH catalyst to be used in pilot plant;

(A) Calcined; (B) Reduced Pt supported on Sasol MG70 catalyst

Figure 2. Tupras pilot plant at TRL 6;

(A) first configuration; (B) final configuration to be used for pilot operation


5) How are you going to use the project results after the end of the project?

Conversion of low value refinery products or side streams into more valuable chemicals is one of the main investment area of Tüpraş. Currently, Tüpraş is investigating new technologies to be integrated to its refineries to be able to minimize LPG or converting LPG into high value-added products such as propylene. Currently, Lummus Catofin and UOP Oleflex are mainly used propane dehydrogenation licenced technologies but, unfortunately, fast deactivation of the catalysts, due to coke formation and sintering, represents a real bottleneck. On the other hand, MACBETH aims the development of innovative catalysts with a propylene selectivity higher than 95%. Unlike severe operating conditions in CATOFIN and OLEFLEX, promising results were already achieved in MACBETH project under milder conditions ( 500-550°C, 1-5 bar). After the demonstration of PDH for 500 h with Catalytic Membrane Reactor (CMR) to be taking place at Tüpraş plant, promising results may make Tüpraş to assess integrating this technology to its refineries. In conclusion, Tüpraş might be a potential client of this technology and directly utilize the MACBETH project outcomes and experience gained in PDH to integrate this technology to its refineries.


TUPRAS plant at TRL-6 

Mixer Torque Rheometer 

Lab Scale Extruder


Pilot Scale Extruder