WIT Press

Heavy Petroleum Upgrading By Microwave Irradiation


Free (open access)








353 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


A. J. Britten, V. Whiffen & A. Miadonye


The continuous depletion of conventional crude reserves underscores the interest of researchers to upgrade heavy petroleum to light oils. Historically conversion of heavy petroleum to synthetic crude has been costly, with the generation of huge waste by-products in the form of coke. In this study we investigated the use of microwave irradiation in the upgrading of heavy petroleum. Five heavy petroleum samples from different regions in Alberta were used, with light and heavy straight run naphthas as the hydrogen rich substrates. GC/MS analysis showed a general increase in lower boiling point fractions for irradiated samples, and this is particularly more pronounced for samples containing hydrogen rich substrates. Asphaltenes and heavy hydrocarbons were prevalent in samples with longer irradiation period. The overall results showed that beyond an optimum irradiation condition there was abnormal increase in the product viscosity, asphaltenes composition and the amount of higher molecular weight fractions. Keywords: heavy petroleum, upgrading, microwave irradiation, bitumen, heavy oil, GC/MS analysis, asphaltene, hydrogen rich substrates, naphtha, radiation. 1 Introduction The decreasing supply of conventional light crude oil has led the petroleum industry to turn to the use of heavier crude oils and residues from conventional refining. Canada has the largest resources of heavy oil and bitumen in the order of three trillion barrels out of the world’s eight trillion barrels [1,2]. Upgrading the heavy oil and bitumen to produce light synthetic crude is essential for expanding their conventional market. Historically heavy petroleum upgrading has been on chemical, thermal and mechanical basis, which are very expensive, generate by-products, and are very complex systems occupying vast amounts of


heavy petroleum, upgrading, microwave irradiation, bitumen, heavyoil, GC/MS analysis, asphaltene, hydrogen rich substrates, naphtha, radiation.