The molecular structure of asphaltenes is still under considerable dispute, especially with regards to the size of the aromatic rings and the bridges to attached groups. This proposal deals with the latter question. We propose to use specially designed reactors to crack the side groups from oil sands asphaltenes, and to enable detailed characterization and analysis of this cracked material. In phase 1 of the project we will use thermal cracking at low pressure, under conditions to minimize reactions of cracked fragments in the liquid phase and in the vapor phase. In phase 2, we will use hydrogenation-cracking conditions to prepare samples with minimal change in the total amount of aromatic carbon. In both phases, we plan a close collaboration between the University of Alberta and ExxonMobil research to select samples and analyze cracked products.
Principal Investigator: Murray Gray
Research Team: Arash Karimi, Rosa Rueda Velasquez, Arash Karimi, Howard Freund, Tuyet Le
Project Number: COSI 2009-04
Projected Completion Date: March 31, 2012