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Worldwide Refinery Processing Review (Individual Technology)

Publication date:3Q 2018
Item#: B1022

Solvent Deasphalting

Solvent extraction and deasphalting processes—or solvent deasphalting (SDA) as it is commonly known—use hydrocarbons such as propane, butanes, pentanes, or a mixture of these to extract light, paraffinic components from heavy residue streams. Regardless of the level of impurities in the feedstock, these processes effectively produce deasphalted (DAO) or demetallized oil (terms that are used interchangeably). DAO product quality and yield are dependent upon the solvent that is selected for the process; i.e., the quality (metals, sulfur, nitrogen and Conradson carbon levels) of the products—which can be used as lubricating oil base stock or cracker feedstock—decreases with increasing yield and with the use of heavier solvents. Asphalt or pitch from the solvent deasphalter is in the form of a highly-viscous liquid. Previously, this low-value stream was commonly used as a blending component for residual fuel oils. More recently, the conversion of liquid pitch into solid form has been achieved to improve potential end uses of heavy byproducts.

Given the upcoming implementation of the IMO 0.5%-sulfur bunker specification in Jan. 2020, there has been significant focus by global refineries to invest in new technologies that minimize bottoms output, which were typically blended into the bunker pool. SDA technology can be applied in a number of areas in the refinery. Due to its versatility, relatively low capital and operating costs, and low energy requirements, solvent deasphalting can also be integrated in a number of flexible configurations with a range of refinery processing units that will treat the high-quality DAO, intermediate-quality resin, or low-quality pitch: coker, visbreaker, gasifier, resid FCC, resid hydrocracker, etc. Ultimately, refinery liquid yields are improved and production of low-value pitch is significantly reduced or eliminated. Integration opportunities also offer benefits in terms of heat and power consumption and can enhance control of product quality to meet the unique product slate specifications for a particular refiner.

There is also increased interest in applying SDA units upstream to upgrade heavy oil, particularly in Canada. Upgrading heavy oil with solvent deasphalting makes it pipeline and refinery ready while decreasing the use of diluents. Overall, as the worldwide supply of heavy and extra-heavy crude oil increases resulting in an increased quantity of heavy asphaltenes passing through the refinery, plant operators can utilize solvent deasphalting technology as a flexible and robust tool to maintain and/or increase liquid yields and optimize plant economics while processing these discounted heavier feeds.

Additionally, the solvent deasphalting section features the latest trends and technology offerings, including:

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The Review is sold for the exclusive use of the subscriber. No other use, duplication, or publication of the Review or any part contained therein is permitted without written consent from Hydrocarbon Publishing Company, P.O. Box 661, Southeastern PA 19399 (USA).

Keywords: deasphalted oil, DAO, deoiled asphalt, demetallized oil, DOA, pitch, residue upgrading, bottom of the barrel, opportunity crudes, heavy oil, asphaltenes, solvent recovery, supercritical solvent extraction, gasification, IGCC, residual fuel oil, bunker fuels, marine fuels, asphaltene pelletization, solvent selection, three-product SDA, resin, solvent-to-oil ratio, integration