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Scientists of Boreskov Institute of Catalysis Develop New Technologies of Petroleum Refining

29 June 2021

Scientists of Boreskov Institute of Catalysis work at development of new technologies of hydroconversion of heavy oils and their components. They suggest replacing the gas hydrogen in such processes with alcohols with the use of nickel-cobalt metal catalysts. This decision would reduce the processes of catalytic hydroskimming and improve their efficiency.

The oil industry is one of the leading consumers of hydrogen in the world along with the chemical and metallurgic industries. The gas hydrogen is used in the processes of catalytic hydroskimming for increasing the depth of processing of heavy oils and purification of oil products from sulfuric pollutants, which improves the quality of commercial fuels, oils and lubricants. Development of new technologies of hydroconversion and catalysts for them is quite important because the share of heavy materials in the structure of petroleum refining grows, and the use of hydrogen meets serious limitations.

The researchers from Boreskov Institute of Catalysis with the support from the Russian Science Foundation suggest replacing the gas hydrogen with alcohols with the use of high-filled nickel-cobalt metal catalysts the authors have developed before. These catalysts have no analogues in the world as with the high metal content (more than 30 wt.%) the size of active particles is below 10 nm, which is difficult to reach simultaneously while preparing such catalysts.

“The oil refining engages high pressures and temperatures, and this imposes strict requirements to the used equipment, materials, and professional skills of the staff. Also we should not forget about the technical complications and limitations related to the storage and transporting of pure hydrogen. We suggest at least partially give up the use of gas hydrogen and replace it with alcohols. They are much more convenient to work with and easier to measure out as compared with gases. Besides, alcohols are able to actively impact the various components of heavy oils, in particular, to act as a reducing agent, since under certain reaction conditions they easily “share” their hydrogen within the composition of their molecules”, says Dr. Andrey Chibiryaev, Senior researcher of the Department of Physicochemical Methods of Research of BIC.

According to the expert, one liter of alcohol can produce up to half of cubic meter of pure hydrogen, and this would be enough for deep refining of four kilograms of oil after the existing technologies. This gives grounds for the use of alcohols as a highly active reducing medium for conversions of the components of heavy oil.

The authors plan to conduct a complex study of H-donating (“H” for Hydrogen) and other chemical properties of alcohols concerning the conversions of the components of heavy oils under high temperatures and pressures. At the same time for such conditions they will study the impact of alcohols over the nickel-cobalt metal catalysts and the ability of the latter to provide the high efficiency of the process.

“Results of this major study will be demanded at diversification of oil refining and development of innovative technologies based on introduction and engagement of supercritical alcohols and high-filled metal catalysts into the deep processing of heavy oils”, — notes Dr. Oleg Martyanov, the head of this research, Deputy Director of BIC.

The study is supported by the RSF grant of 18 mln rubles intended for 2021-2023.


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