This project is about understanding the structure and behaviour of bitumen at the molecular level, as a way of developing new high-efficiency catalyst methodologies.
Results will reduce costs and challenges associated with processes such as upgrading asphaltenes, removing sulfur and nitrogen (sweetening the feedstock), and cracking high molecular weight atoms down to smaller ones. There's hope the research will lead to catalysts able to sweeten and crack all in one step.
Current catalysts such as molybdenum sulfide are like tiny rocks that present their edges and sides to the material to be catalyzed, while their interior mass is shielded from the process and thus wasted. A new molecular catalyst would offer greatly increased surface area to complete the catalytic reaction more efficiently.
The search is on for a robust molecular structure that will not degrade under the stresses of the process, and the past year has seen developments of some entirely new molecular structures and previously unexplored opportunities.
Principal Investigator: Jeff Stryker
Research Team: Dominique Hebert, Jeremy Gauthier, Robin Hamilton
Project Number: COSI 2007-06
Projected Completion Date: March 31, 2011