Characterization of pore coking in catalyst for thermal down-hole upgrading of heavy oil

Paul Dim, Abarasi Hart, Joseph Wood, Bill Macnaughtan, Sean P. Rigby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
381 Downloads (Pure)


Heavy oil and bitumen are a potential alternative energy source to conventional light crude. However, recovery of these resources can have substantial environmental impact. Downhole upgrading offers the prospect of both improving recovery, and decreasing environmental impact. However, use of catalysts to enhance downhole upgrading is limited by the need for one that can survive the extreme coking conditions arising from the cracking of heavy oil. In this work the potential of hydrogen donors to improve upgrading and enhance catalyst lifetime was considered. In order to extract detailed information on the catalyst structural evolution during reaction a novel parallel adsorption and thermoporometry characterization method was used. This technique allows detailed information to be obtained on the spatial juxtaposition of different pores, and their relative connectivity, as well as on size distributions. For catalyst operated at the conditions studied, it has been found that coking arises in smaller pores branching off the larger pores providing access to the catalyst interior. It has been found that while coking following use of different types of hydrogen donor leads to similar primary patterns of evolution in the pore-scale descriptors of the remaining accessible void-space, differences do arise in the overall accessible volume. Hence, it seems the hydrogen donor affects the location rather than general nature of the pore structure changes. However, at a secondary level of scrutiny, some differences in pore-scale evolution are also identified for different hydrogen donors. These differences identified helped the understanding of variations in the performance of different hydrogen donor and catalyst combinations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Early online date3 Apr 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Apr 2015


  • bitumen
  • in-situ combustion
  • thermoporometry
  • Adsorption
  • Porosity


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