Comparative study of the normal visbreaking process and the thermal fixed-bed process applied on Colombian heavy oils
The rise in heavy oil reserves, the scarceness of light oils, the demand for clean products and the increase in residual material or bottoms make it necessary to implement or adapt technologies to process heavy oils efficiently. To this end, the modification of the current visbreaking system has been proposed, consisting of adapting a fixed bed inside the reactor in order to study possible modifications in the different thermal processes to increment and improve performance with the purpose of obtaining more valuable products from heavy oils.
This research was conducted through testing at the pilot plant level in the visbreaking unit of Ecopetrol S.A. Instituto Colombiano del Petróleo (ICP), which provides the possibility of comparing the normal visbreaking process to the fixed-bed visbreaking process as a thermal process. Both processes are carried out in comparison to the increase in the performance of middle distillates and the quality properties of the products obtained. The comparison was completed under the same conditions of flow, flow direction (ascending), pressure, temperature and oil type.
The results revealed that the fixed-bed visbreaking process managed to convert more heavy fractions into distillates (4 to 7%) compared to the normal visbreaking process.
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