Institute for Oil Sands Innovation (IOSI)

Selective Separation of Vanadium and Nickel Compounds from Bitumen

This research program aims to develop new methods for selectively removing the vanadium and nickel-bearing petroporphyrin complexes from bitumen. Current methodologies are either non-selective (i.e. asphaltene precipitation), or result in significant catalyst costs (i.e. hydrodemetallation). This program proposes three related projects to develop new approaches to metals removal:

  1. Measure the rate of release of metal-bearing compounds from the molecular aggregates in bitumen (Dechaine). The aggregates are thought to contain the organo-metal compounds, and release of the metal bearing species.
  2. Focus on the development of adsorbent materials that recognize the molecular properties of the metals, and remove them with high affinity (Yin). Modeling initiatives (Stoyanov) will be undertaken to complement the experimental affinity studies.
  3. Study potential regenerable silicate-base sorbents that could be used to remove metal-bearing compounds.

Together, the three projects in our research program will help us determine the rate of mass transfer of metal petroporphyrin's in asphaltene aggregates into the bulk liquid phase. They will also enable us to investigate the use of affinity separations for removing the organo-metallic compounds, using ligands that interact selectively with the porphyrinic groups that bear the metal atoms. Finally, these projects will also serve to examine the adsorption of organometallic components to alkali-doped glass surfaces.

Principal Investigator(s): Murray Gray, Andriy Kovalenko, Kuznicki, Jeff Stryker
Project Team: Stan Stoyanov, Greg Dechaine, Cindy-Xing Yin, Andree Koenig, Negin Razavilar

Project Number: COSI 2005-01
Close Date: March 31, 2009


Murray R. Gray
University of Alberta