Pedro Arcelus Arrillaga
PhD Research Student
Department of Chemical Engineering
My research is focused on evaluating the feasibility of using water in supercritical conditions as a reaction medium for upgrading heavy oils. These oils contain high amounts of asphaltenes that consist mainly of condensed polynuclear aromatics and organic compounds containing heteroatom’s (S, N or O) in their structures.
The characteristic properties of water at these conditions, i.e. non polarity, high dissociation constant and a viscosity similar to a gas make it a suitable medium for the cracking, desulfurization and denitrogenation reactions being studied in my project.
I will conduct experimental runs using model compounds like phenantrene, dibenzothiophene and quinoline in a custom designed flow reactor capable to operate at high temperatures and pressures. These runs will be carried out without using a catalyst, with the aid of a heterogeneous catalyst and using an oxidative agent to evaluate the effect that these have on the product distribution and in the formation of liquid products, gaseous products and coke. I am particularly interested in determining the kinetic parameters of the reactions taking place in the system.