J.L. Hueso, V.J. Rico, J. Cotrino, J.M. Jiménez-Mateos, A.R. González-Elipe
Environmetal Science and Technology, 43 (2009) 2557-2562
doi: 10.1021/es900236b

This work investigates the possibility of using plasmas to treat high boiling point and viscous liquids (HBPVL) and cokes resulting as secondary streams from the refining of oil. For their revalorisation, the use of microwave (MW) induced plasmas of water is proposed, as an alternative to more conventional processes (i.e., catalysis, pyrolysis, combustion, etc.). As a main result, this type of energetic cold plasma facilitates the conversion at room temperature of the heavy aromatic oils and cokes into linear hydrocarbons and synthesis gas, commonly defined as syngas (CO + H2 gas mixture). The exposure of the coke to this plasma also facilitates the removal of the sulfur present in the samples and leads to the formation on their surface of a sort of carbon fibers and rods network and new porous structures. Besides, optical emission measurements have provided direct evidence of the intermediates resulting from the fragmentation of the heavy oils and cokes during their exposure to the water plasma. Furthermore, the analysis of the mass spectra patterns suggests a major easiness to break the aromatic bonds mainly contained in the heavy oils. Therefore, an innovative method for the conversion of low value residues from oil-refining processes is addressed.

Water plasmas for the revalorisation of heavy oils and cokes from petroleum refining