Alternative to visbreaking or delayed coking of heavy crude oil through a short contact time, solid transported bed cracking process†
An extra-heavy crude oil was treated at a short contact time in the 510–580 °C temperature range in a FCC-like process, first thermally and then in the presence of a solid with low catalytic activity. The treatment greatly improved the properties of the crude oil, reducing the density and viscosity to values that make the oil transportable without dilution in a pipeline. In addition, the upgraded oil was substantially free of contaminants such as metals and heptane insolubles. The use of the solid allowed upgrading all properties with a minimum coke penalty. The residual fraction of the upgraded oil had to be eliminated to obtain a syncrude stable in asphaltene proof, which could be obtained by recycling to extinction in a cracking reactor.