Unconventional oil reservoirs such as heavy oil, extra heavy oil, oil shale and oil sand/bitumen are very interesting since these kinds of oil are currently proven to constitute a huge amount of total world oil reserves. However, it is difficult to handle these kinds of oil due to very high viscosity. Thermal application methods may have great possibilities for heavy oil and bitumen production. Prior to shipment to downstream markets, the bitumen needs to be upgraded to produce higher value of liquid hydrocarbon products. However, the issues in oil sands industry are environmental challenges such as green-house-gas (ghg) emission, huge amount of fuel and water consumption, liquid and solid wastes disposal. The objective of this study is to investigate an effective and efficient upgrading process by adding decalin as hydrogen donor, water and various type nanometal particles (40-500 nm) as catalysts into Athabasca bitumen.

Athabasca bitumen has been successfully upgraded by reducing its viscosity about 80% (measured at 60 °C) by applying catalytic aquathermolysis at 240 °C during 12 hours. As hydrogen donor, decalin is very interesting. Besides cheap, it could dramatically accelerate viscosity reduction with concentration of 5 wt.%. The degree of viscosity reduction will increase with increased decalin concentration. However degree of bitumen upgrading will decrease with presence of water. It seems that synergetic effects to the upgrading process did not work effectively. Hence water consumption during aquathermolysis process might be reduced to minimize the cost. Since earlier studies have shown that nanoparticles may reduce heavy oil viscosity, four types of nanometal particles have been studied and some of them accelerated viscosity reduction during catalytic aquathermolysis process at particular concentration. Improper nanometal particle type and concentration are reversed effect. Temperature and heating time have vital role in the upgrading process.

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