Hydrocarbon/carbon systems can be used to perform the hydrogen transfer reaction in heavy oil upgrading, as alternatives to metal catalysts and molecular hydrogen. In this study, a system comprising a hydrogen-donor solvent (tetralin) and acid-treated activated carbon was established to evaluate its ability as a hydrogen transfer agent to upgrade a vacuum residue (VR). The use of tetralin substantially decreased coke formation from 32.7 wt% to a negligible amount in VR upgrading at 450 °C because the solvent could act as a hydrogen donor and diluent for the coke precursors. The acid-treated activated carbon accelerated dehydrogenation of tetralin through hydrogen transfer in the upgrading, resulting in a higher residue conversion and moderate coke formation. In view of the phase behavior, the hydrogen transfer reaction could also be promoted by increasing the contact between the hydrogen acceptor and donor in the supercritical medium. In the VR upgrading using the activated carbon in supercritical tetralin, complete residue conversion was achieved with 47 wt% light fractions (gas and light oil) and 6 wt% coke at 450 °C and 5.33 MPa. The results indicate that the streams available in oil refinery processes, which are rich in hydrocarbons with hydrogen-donor abilities, have great potential for use in heavy oil upgrading.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Nuclear Energy and Engineering
- Fuel Technology
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology