384485 Reactivity Study of Deasphalted Oil Upgrading Via Catalytic Steam Cracking Using Ultradispersed Catalysts
The worldwide shortage of light oil reserves has forced the oil sector to move toward the exploitation of extra-heavy oils characterized by having considerable amount of Asphaltene compounds that difficult their processing in the conventional refinery schemes. In this way, the implementation of Deasphalting units, where asphaltenes molecules are removed from the hydrocarbon fraction has become very popular in the industry, bringing the need of processes for upgrading these non-asphaltene containing heavy hydrocarbons, for which an alternative technologies involving innovative ultra-dispersed catalysts and steam activation, such as Catalytic Steam Cracking (CSC), may have a very important role.
In this work, the reactivity of deasphalted oil (DAO) obtained from a topped fraction of a South American heavy oil via Catalytic Steam Cracking. In the catalytic steam cracking process, an in-house formulated ultra-dispersed nano-catalyst is incorporated in the feedstock through a decomposition reaction performed in a catalyst manufacturing skid designed for this purpose, and the catalyst-loaded hydrocarbon is fed to an up-flow reactor mixed with a steam stream where it is heated to catalytic cracking reaction conditions. Additionally, conventional non-catalytic steam cracking (SC) was also carried out in order to assess the performance of the catalytic process compared to the non-catalytic route. The performance of the process was compared based on the products quality determined through a series of analytical techniques including: Simulated Distillation (SimDist), Saturates-Aromatics-Resins-Asphaltenes (SARA) analysis, Microcarbon content (MCr), Coke content by gravimetry, P-value, and Viscosity.
The results of the Steam Cracking reactivity tests showed a typical behavior with slight increase on distillate yields and limited conversion values, increasing trends for the microcarbon content and a decreasing trend on the stability of the asphaltenes with the severity of the reaction. On the other hand, it was possible to identify the advantages of the Catalytic Steam Cracking compared to the non-catalytic route in terms of product quality, being able to reach higher conversion levels which translates into higher distillate yields and significant viscosity reduction, while keeping a stable product with no significant increase on the productions of byproducts such as coke.