Superior crude oil refining technologies

Paul Boughton

NevadaUS-based SulphCo Inc has received the Frost & Sullivan 2006 Excellence in Crude Oil Refining Technology of the Year Award for its development of the high performance Sonocracking technology that helps upgrade sour heavy crude oils into sweeter lighter crude oils.

Sonocracking aids in reducing sulphurnitrogenasphaltenesmetalsand heavy residuum compounds prevalent in crude oilsand facilitates desulphurisation. It also leads to an increase in the quantity of usable oil that can be economically refined per barrel of processed crude oil by almost seven gallons. This is a significant accomplishment in terms of lowering the amount of crude oil feed stock needed to meet current production by as much as 20percent.

“A major challenge encountered by crude oil refiners is the cost associated with building or revamping old or functional

high-pressure/high-temperature hydro-desulphurisation (HDS) units” says Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Anil Naidu. “SulphCo’s technology operates at conditions of low temperature and pressurethereby proving to be highly cost effective in comparison to the existing refinery HDS units.”

Sonocracking employs high-power ultrasonic energy on a mixture of crude oil and water in conjunction with inexpensive proprietary catalysts.

Free radicals are formed as a result of the breaking of molecular bonds in the water vapour at the thermolic centre of the cavitation bubbles.

While a large portion of these free radicals rapidly reform into water vapoura few bring about the displacement of sulphur and nitrogen in the hydrocarbons.

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