Tomsk scientists figured out how to get bitumen from oil sludge

Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University have developed an environmentally friendly method for obtaining liquid hydrocarbons and bitumen from oil production wastes hazardous to the environment. The results of their work are published in the journal Applied Sciences. As explained in the press service of the university, the steam pyrolysis proposed by them is more promising than most existing solutions based on pyrolysis in an inert or oxygen-free environment.

“We have carried out experimental studies of steam pyrolysis of oil sludge at a flow-type pilot plant to obtain such energy-rich products as liquid hydrocarbons, semi-coke, non-condensable gas-phase compounds and bitumen. The steam pyrolysis process was carried out at a temperature of 650°C,” said one of the authors of the study, Associate Professor of the Scientific and Educational Center I.N. Butakova TPU Kirill Larionov.

Steam pyrolysis is a thermochemical process in which saturated hydrocarbons are broken down into smaller, often unsaturated hydrocarbons by thermal decomposition in the absence of air. Tomsk scientists suggested using water vapor as an intensifying agent. It also ensures the explosion safety of the installation, the environmental friendliness of the process and increases the energy value of the products obtained.

Oil sludge wastes (stable mixtures of oil products, water and mechanical impurities – clay, silt, sand) are formed at all stages of oil production, transportation and refining. Their accumulation poses a serious danger to the environment, so the issue of processing is especially relevant in the context of an increase in oil production.

Formerly “Expert” wrotethat scientists have found a way to accelerate the creation of oil. Using the method of hydrothermal liquefaction in laboratory conditions, oil was created in just a few hours, while in nature it takes millions of years. During the experiment, wet organic matter, in particular sewage sediments, was heated to 350 degrees and subjected to a pressure of 250 times the earth’s pressure for four hours. This made it possible to split complex organic molecular chains into smaller fragments. After that, they were treated with hydrogen and received a substance that differed very little from natural oil.

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