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Ionizing Electron Incidents as an Efficient Way to Reduce Viscosity of Heavy Petroleum Fluids

By Masoud Alfi


The dependence on oil and the fact that petroleum conventional reservoirs are becoming depleted direct attentions toward unconventional-and harder to access-reservoirs. Among those, heavy and extremely heavy oil reservoirs and tar sands form a considerable portion of all petroleum resources. Conventional thermal and thermocatalytic refining methods are not affordable choices in some cases, as they demand a considerable energy investment. On the other hand, electron irradiation, as a novel technology, provides more promising results in heavy oil upgrading. Electron irradiation, as a method of delivering energy to a target molecule, ensures that most of the energy is absorbed by the molecule electronic structure. This leads to a very efficient generation of reactive species, which are capable of initiating chemical reactions. In contrast, when using thermal energy, only a small portion of the energy goes into the electronic structure of the molecule; therefore, bond rupture will result only at high energy levels. The effect of electron irradiation on different heavy petroleum fluids is investigated in this study. Radiation-induced physical and chemical changes of the fluids have been evaluated using different analytical instruments. The results show that high energy electron particles intensify the cracking of heavy hydrocarbons into lighter species. Moreover, irradiation is seen to limit any post-treatment reactions, providing products of higher stability. Depending on the characteristics of the radiolyzed fluid, irradiation may change the distribution pattern of the products, or the radiolysis process may follow the same mechanism that thermal cracking does. In addition to that, we have studied the effectiveness of different influencing variables such as reaction temperature, absorbed dose values, and additives on radiolytic reactions. More specifically, the following subjects are addressed in this study: *Radiation?induced chain reactions of heavy petroleum fluids *Complex hydrocarbon cracking mechanism *High and low temperature radiolysis *Synergetic effects of different chemical additives in radiolysis reactions *Time stability of radiation product

Topics: heavy oil, electron particles, thermal cracking, asphaltene degradation, viscosity reduction, reaction mechanism, temperature effects, stability, absorbed dose
Year: 2012
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