Heavy oil upgrading in the presence of high density water: Basic study

Masaru Watanabe, Shin nosuke Kato, Satoshi Ishizeki, Hiroshi Inomata, Richard Lee Smith

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113 Citations (Scopus)


Heavy oil (Canada oil sand bitumen) upgrading in high density water (100 and 200 kg/m3) at 723 K was performed by a batch reactor. Yields of asphaltene, maltene, and coke were evaluated. With increasing water density, the rate of coke formation was promoted. To get some hints of coke formation mechanism, the formed coke was observed by scanning electron microscope (SEM). The most part of the coke formed st neat pyrolysis (pyrolysis in the absence of high density water) was coalescent structure of some small coke particles, while that at pyrolysis in the presence of water (200 kg/m3 of water density) was porous structure that indicated occurrence of phase inversion of coke precursors. Based on the results, the reaction mechanism of the heavy oil upgrading was considered: lighter oil was extracted in high density water and the concentration of light hydrocarbon decreased in a heavier oil phase, while the concentration of heavier oil in the oil phase increased. Thus, the lighter oil decomposed further in high density water phase and the heavier oil in the oil phase combined together to form coke due to its higher concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-52
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Supercritical Fluids
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jun


  • Asphaltene
  • Bitumen
  • Coke formation
  • Phase behaviour
  • Phase separation kinetic model
  • SEM
  • Supercritical water
  • Upgrading


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