Russian scientists have found an environmentally friendly way for processing oil waste
The scientists of Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) have developed an environmentally friendly way for processing oil waste to produce bitumen and liquid hydrocarbons. The research results were published by the Applied Sciences, an international peer-reviewed journal specialising in engineering sciences as well as applied chemistry, physics and biology.

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Oil extraction, transportation and processing associate with formation of oil sludge – a stable mixture of water, oil products and mechanical impurities, also including sand, clay and metal oxides. The TPU scientists proposed steam pyrolysis for processing such waste, i.e. the process in which saturated hydrocarbons break down into smaller (often unsaturated) hydrocarbons due to thermal decomposition with lack of air. A distinctive feature of this method is the use of water vapour as an intensifying agent, which ensures higher environmental friendliness and safety of the process in comparison with the other solutions based on an inert or anoxic environment.

We conducted experimental studies of steam pyrolysis of oil sludge at a flow through pilot plant for obtaining such energetically valuable products as liquid hydrocarbons, semi-coke, non-condensable gas-phase compounds and bitumen,” the TPU press service quotes Kirill Larionov, one of the research authors, an associate professor of I. N. Butakov Scientific and Educational Center of TPU. “The steam pyrolysis was carried out at the temperature of 650°C. Our target product was liquid hydrocarbons, and we conducted comprehensive studies of their physical and chemical characteristics, spraying, drop ignition and combustion processes,” the scientist explained.

The research supported by an industrial partner, resulted in production of bitumen, semi-coke and non-condensable gas.

Pyrolysis is also used for reduction of an ecological footprint in renewable energy. For example, the French company Rosi Solar has adopted this method for extraction of silicon, silver and copper from the spent solar panels as pyrolysis allows separation of metals from the cells of photovoltaic panels. The development will give an opportunity to reuse the components accounting for 65 percent of the material cost (aluminum and glass are the remaining 35 percent).


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May 2022