Phase behaviour prediction for ill-defined hydrocarbon mixtures

  • Author / Creator
    Saber, Nima
  • Phase behaviour information is essential for the development and optimization of hydrocarbon resource production, transport and refining technologies. Experimental data sets for mixtures containing heavy oil and bitumen are sparse as phase behaviour data are difficult to obtain and cost remains prohibitive for most applications. A computational tool that predicts phase behaviours reliably for mixtures containing such ill-defined components, over broad temperature, pressure and composition ranges would play a central role in the advancement of bitumen production and refining process knowledge and would have favourable impacts on the economics and environmental effects linked to the exploitation of such ill-defined hydrocarbon resources. Prior to this work, predictive computational methods were reliable for dilute mixtures of ill-defined constituents. To include a much wider range of conditions, three major challenges were addressed. The challenges include: creation of a robust and accurate numerical approach, implementation of a reliable thermodynamic model, and speciation of ill-defined constituents like Athabasca Bitumen Vacuum Residue (AVR). The first challenge was addressed by creating a novel computational approach based on a global minimization method for phase equilibrium calculations. The second challenge was tackled by proposing a thermodynamic model that combines the Peng-Robinson equation of state with group contribution and related parameter prediction methods. The speciation challenge was addressed by another research group at the University of Alberta. Pseudo components they proposed were used to assign groups and estimate thermodynamic properties. The new phase equilibrium computational tool was validated by comparing simulated phase diagrams with experimental data for mixtures containing AVR and n-alkanes. There is good qualitative and quantitative agreement between computed and experimental phase diagrams over industrially relevant ranges of compositions, pressures and temperatures. Mismatch was only observed over a limited range of compositions, temperatures and pressures. This computational breakthrough provides, for the first time, a platform for reliable phase behaviour computations with broad potential for application in the hydrocarbon resource sector. The specific computational results can be applied directly to solvent assisted recovery, paraffinic deasphalting, and distillation and refining processes for Athabasca bitumen a strategic resource for Canada.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.