Catalytic Heavy Oil Upgrading Using Natural Gas

The proposed project aims at developing new catalytic processes and corresponding catalysts for heavy oil upgrading with the assistance of natural gas. Compared with traditional hydrotreating processes, these new processes provide alternative ways for heavy oil and natural gas utilization, which are economically and environmentally favorable in terms of higher profit margin, lower operating cost, energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission. A variety of catalysts with particular functions will be developed and a series of reaction evaluations in different forms of reactors will be carried out. Besides, mechanistic study will also be performed, which throws light upon the evolution of various fractions in petroleum during the upgrading process, accelerating the catalyst development and optimization process. After a promising lab-scale and small pilot scale operation is established, a stepwise scaling up practice toward industrial production will be launched based on the cooperation of the proposed supervisor and partner organization. The industrialization of this novel process will benefit both the petroleum and natural gas industries in Canada, where abundant heavy oil and bitumen extracted from oil sands are widely reserved. The corresponding investigation also provides guidance for the daily operation and long-term planning of the partner company regarding oil upgrading process.

Faculty Supervisor:

Hua Song


Hao Xu


Kara Energy Services


Engineering - chemical / biological



University of Calgary



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