Reactor Unloading Services

Catalyst Handling has a range of options available for the unloading of reactors, vessels, and columns. The majority of our equipment is proprietary and we constantly review our equipment to incorporate best practice procedures and methods.

Our unique and comprehensive training systems enable Catalyst Handling to offer a complete 'blind to blind' range of services for reactors, vessels, and columns from one integrated team. Catalyst Handling is committed to best practice operations, and as such is constantly developing new methods or improvements for both inert and non-inert entries as well as non-entry catalyst removal.

Vacuum Method

Catalyst unloading is typically accomplished by vacuuming from the entry manway, dumping from the unloading nozzle or flange at the base of the reactor, or a combination of both. Unloading using the vacuum method is normally required under the following circumstances:

  • For removal of top support and upper zone catalyst only; known as a reactor skim
  • When bed rotation or separation of different catalyst types is desirable
  • Where sampling of catalyst at different zones is needed for evaluation
  • For total recovery of precious metals or hazardous materials
  • When space, access, or the reactor design dictates
  • To retain support for reuse, it may be more economical to skim and classify the support rather than screen and classify the entire charge

Catalyst Handling has designed and fabricated its catalyst handling equipment to the specific criteria required for proper catalyst handling. Cyclone separators and Continuous Discharge hoppers enable catalyst removal at high rates; with little or no damage to catalyst particles.

Catalyst Handling can accomplish vacuum unloading in atmospheric or inert conditions. A major consideration when vacuuming an inert purged reactor is the conservation of Nitrogen and maintenance of the inert atmosphere. The re-circulation and cooling system used by Catalyst Handling assures both the optimum use of the Nitrogen and the maintenance of safe levels of Nitrogen to work within.

Gravity Unloading Method

Catalyst Handling has assembled material handling equipment that can collect, transport, and transfer reactor catalyst from the dump nozzle to any size container requested. Our external dust collectors recover air born particulate created during the material transfer phase of collection.

In areas where access is difficult or for unloading horizontal dump nozzles we have enclosed conveyors and screw conveyors that can assist with the removal of catalyst from the most difficult of locations.

Water-Flood or Chemical Fixation

With this method water or chemicals are introduced into the reactor through the feed inlet piping or product outlet piping nozzles. Catalyst Handling has the technology necessary to flood and dump catalyst, and dewater the spent material as well.

Mercury Handling

Catalyst Handling can provide complete mercury handling services. We understand that mercury contamination on gas plants and processing units, as well as refineries and petrochemical plants is an increasing problem.


Catalyst Handling's ability to work on critical path items and deliver them in record time is second to none. More than a specialized services company, we offer solutions to specific problems; not just the supply of labor and equipment.

Supplying genuinely multi-skilled teams, selected for the individual projects being undertaken, ensures minimum down time and maximum reactor and catalyst life.

  • We collaborate with clients to ensure work scope and best practices are identified and implemented
  • Reactor technicians are highly trained and selected on their work ethic, technical knowledge, and ability to perform work safely
  • Dedicated and experienced safety personnel ensure jobs are completed safely and efficiently

Zero Harm

Catalyst Handling's key value is zero harm; focused on care for Health, Safety, Community, and Environment. This is achieved utilizing a fulltime safety management team to provide internationally recognized and respected safety training programs and systems.

  • Highly skilled trainers utilize superior, unique in-house facilities to provide specialized, tailored training and refresher courses to OSHA standards. These include confined space entry, breathing apparatus (helmet and mask systems), advanced first aid and rescue techniques, height safety training, rope access, gas detection and monitoring, as well as many other related skills
  • Specialized equipment, designed by our dedicated Equipment Innovations Group with input from our operations personnel, increases safety and enhances performance