Upgrading of Heavy Crude Oil with W-Zr Catalyst


The main problem of new crude oil reserves is the incipient increase of heavy crude oils in the American continent, i.e. USA, Mexico, Canada and Venezuela. These types of crude oils require several treatments before refining. One of these treatments can be hydrocracking. In this petroleum refining process, it is possible to modify the heavy crude oils to light crude oils. In this paper, we try to use hydrocracking to improve the quality of raw heavy crude oil, through some chemical transformations C-H binding rupture using a catalyst containing active metals such as tungsten and zirconium (W-Zr). After the crude oil was hydrocracked in presence of this novel bimetallic catalyst, the hydrocracked products showed lower content of asphaltenes, resins, sulfur and nitrogen. Also positive changes in the viscosity of crude oil measured as a decreasing of this value were observed. The American Petroleum Institute (API) gravity was significantly increased 6 units. Consequently, all these changes confirmed that the upgrading of the heavy crude oil was successful.

Share and Cite:

Schacht, P. , Díaz-García, L. , Aguilar, J. and Ramírez, S. (2014) Upgrading of Heavy Crude Oil with W-Zr Catalyst. Advances in Chemical Engineering and Science, 4, 250-257. doi: 10.4236/aces.2014.42028.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Kjarstad, J. and Johnsson, F. (2009) Resources and Future Supply of Oil. Energy Policy, 37, 441-464.
[2] Laherrere, J. (2003) Forecast of Oil and Gas Supply to 2050. PETROTECH 2003, New Delhi.
[3] Isaacs, E. (2006) Book Canadian Oil Sands: Development and Future Outlook. Managing Director, Alberta Energy Research Institute, Canada’s National Energy Board, Calgary.
[4] Fumoto, E. Tago, T., Tsuji, T. and Takao, M. (2004) Recovery of Useful Hydrocarbons from Petroleum Residual Oil by Catalytic Cracking with Steam over Zirconia-Supporting Iron Oxide Catalyst. Energy Fuels, 18, 1770-1774.
[5] Brian, C., Gordon, J. and Graves, W. (2007) Heavy Oil, Extra-Heavy Oil and Bitumen Unconventional Oil. National Petroleum Council Heavy Oil Subgroup of the Technology Task Group of the NPC Committee on Global Oil and Gas.
[6] Greene, D.L., Hopson, L. and Li, J. (2006) Have We Run out of Oil Yet? Oil Peaking Analysis from an Optimist’s Perspective. Energy Policy, 34, 515-531.
[7] Soderbergh, B., Robelius, F. and Aleklett, K. (2007) A Crash Programme Scenario for the Canadian Oil Sands Industry. Energy Policy, 35, 1931-1947.
[8] Mitsunori, S., Yoshlml, S. and Chlrato, T. (1986) Effect of Catalyst Pore Structure on Hydrotreating of Heavy Oil. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Fundamentals, 25, 330-337.
[9] Nor, A.L., Nilofar, A., Mohd, A.R. and Ali, A.B (2008) Investigation of Nanoscale Tungsten (VI) Oxide as a Catalyst for the Ozonolysis of Oleic Acid. European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, 24, 463-467.
[10] Díaz-Garcia, L., Cortez, M.T., et al. (2006) Influence of Alumina Crystal Size on the Hydrotreating Activity of Supported NiMo Catalysts Using Real Feedstock. Petroleum Science and Technology, 24, 485-506.
[11] Supothina, S., Seeharaj, P., Yoriya, S. and Sriyudthsak, M. (2007) Synthesis of Tungsten Oxide Nanoparticles by Acid Precipitation Method. Ceramics International, 33, 931-936.
[12] Benitez, V.M., Yori, J.C., Grau, J.M., Pieck, C.L. and Vera, C.R. (2006) Hydroisomerization and Cracking of n-Octane and n-Hexadecane over Zirconia Catalysts. Energy & Fuels, 20, 422-426.
[13] Bianchini, C., Jiménez, M.V., Meli, A., Moneti, S., Patinec, V. and Vizza, F. (1997) Mimicking the HDS Activity of Promoted Tungsten Catalysts. A Homogeneous Modeling Study Using a Two-Component Tungsten/Rhodium System. Organometallics, 16, 5696-5705. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/om970711e
[14] Alhulmaidan, F., Haitham, M.S. and Al-Adwani, H. (2010) Hydrocracking of Atmospheric Residue Feedstock in Hydrotreating Processes. Kuwait Journal of Science, 37, 129-159.
[15] Welz, B. and Sperling, M. (2007) Frontmatter. In: Atomic Absorption Spectrometry, 3rd Edition, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH, Weinheim.
[16] Hsu, C.H., Chang, C.C., Tseng, C.M., Chan, C.C., Chao, W.H., Wu, Y.R., Wen, M.H., Hsieh, Y.T., Wang, Y.C., Chen, C.L., Wang, M.J. and Wu, M.K. (2013) An Ultra-Fast Response Gasochromic Device for Hydrogen Gas Detection. Sensors and Actuators B: Chemical, 186, 193-198. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.snb.2013.06.004
[17] Valigi, M., Gazzoli, D., Pettiti, I., Mattei, G., Colonna, S., De Rossi, S. and Ferraris, G. (2002) WOx/ZrO2 Catalysts ☆: Part 1. Preparation, Bulk and Surface Characterization. Applied Catalysis A: General, 231, 159-172.
[18] Baker, J.E., Burch, R. and Golunski, S.E. (1989) Thermal analysis of catalyst surfaces. Acta, 329-342.
[19] Haines, P.J. (2002) Principles of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry. Royal Society of Chemistry, London, 220 Pages.
[20] China, H., Campbell, S. and Kesler, O. (2007) Thermal and Electrochemical Stability of Tungsten Carbide Catalyst Supports. Journal of Power Sources, 164, 431-440.
[21] Brostow, W., Menard, K.P. and Menard, N. (2009) Combustion Properties of Several Species of Wood. Chemistry & Chemical Technology, 3, 173-176.
[22] Busca, G. (1998) Spectroscopic Characterization of the Acid Properties of Metal Oxide Catalysts. Catalysis Today, 41, 191-206. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0920-5861(98)00049-2
[23] Kim, T.Y., Sung, D., Choi, Y., Baek, J., Park, J.R. and Yi, J. (2012) Preparation and Characterization of Mesoporous Zr-WOx/SiO2 Catalysts for the Esterification of 1-Butanol with Acetic Acid. Journal of Materials Chemistry, 22, 10021-10028.
[24] Lebarbier, V. and Clet, G. (2006) A Comparative Study of the Surface Structure, Acidity, and Catalytic Performance of Tungstated Zirconia Prepared from Crystalline Zirconia or Amorphous Zirconium Oxyhydroxide. Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 110, 13905-13911.
[25] Wang, H., Wu, Y., He, L. and Liu, Z. (2012) Supporting Tungsten Oxide on Zirconia by Hydrothermal and Impregnation Methods and Its Use as a Catalyst to Reduce the Viscosity of Heavy Crude Oil. Energy & Fuels, 26, 6518-6527.
[26] Joonaki, E., Ghanaatian, Sh. and Zargar, Gh. (2012) A New Approach to Simultaneously Enhancing Heavy Oil Recovery and Hindering Asphaltene Precipitation. Iranian Journal of Oil & Gas Science and Technology, 1, 37-42.
[27] Rana, M., Samano, V., Ancheyta, J. and Diaz, J.A. (2007) A Review of Recent Advances on Process Technologies for Upgrading of Heavy Oils and Residua. Fuel, 86, 1216-1231.
[28] Lee, D.K. and Yoon, W.L. (1998) Modification of the Alumina-Supported Mo-Based Hydrodesulfurization Catalysts by Tungsten. Catalysis Letters, 53, 193-198.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.