Utilization of Charged Particles as an Efficient Way to Improve Rheological Properties of Heavy Asphaltic Petroleum Fluids
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High energy electron particles were utilized to improve the rheological properties of heavy asphaltic petroleum fluids and upgrade them into lighter, and more utilizable, fluids. Heavy oil reserves, as one of the most abundant sources of energy, have attracted considerable attention during the last decades. However, high viscosity of such fluids always poses problems during production and transportation operations. Complex hydrocarbon molecules in heavy petroleum fluids can be affordable sources of energy, if we can find a way to convert them into components of simpler structure in a cost-efficient process. While high energy demand of conventional thermal and thermo-catalytic process opens doubts on the application of such methods, emerging electron beam upgrading technology appears to accomplish promising achievements as a novel hydrocarbon treatment process. Radiation thermal cracking was observed to reduce the viscosity of highly asphaltic petroleum samples more than the conventional thermal cracking method. Simulated distillation analysis showed higher concentrations of lighter components in radiolyzed samples, which indicated the intensified cracking as a result of electron irradiation. Stability of the products with time is one of the main concerns because samples with altering properties may cause difficulties after upgrading process. The viscosity of thermally cracked samples showed a substantial increase with time, while aging investigations on radiation thermal cracking products demonstrated stable properties. Copyright 2012, Society of Petroleum Engineers.
author list (cited authors)
Alfi, M., Da Silva, P. F., Barrufet, M. A., & Moreira, R. G.