Another physical separation process is the Butane Deasphalting Unit (BDU). This solventextraction process makes a separation between distillate-type and asphaltic compounds of theshort residue. Solvent extraction is a more suitable process that high vacuum flashing where, inorder to avoid thermal cracking (temperature decomposition), impractically low pressures orhigh temperatures would have to be used.In the Butane Deasphalting process, short residue form a high vacuum distillation unit iscontacted with liquid butane under specified temperature and pressure conditions. Butane hasbeen selected as the optimum solvent because it provided the highest deasphalted oil yield withgood selectability at low solvent-to-feed ratios. The butane easily dissolves the lower boilinghydrocarbons, but its solvent power is limited with respect to the higher boiling hydrocarbons,especially aromatic and asphaltic compounds. The butane and short residue are mixed in anextraction column at conditions close to the critical point of butane.Two liquid phases are formed, one rich in butane containing the extracted oil (Deasphalted Oil -DAO) the other of asphaltic compound with little butane and oil content (ASPHALT).The extraction column operates isothermally, the butane-rich phase being continuous and theasphaltic phase as dispersed droplets. The density difference between the phases drives thedispersed phase downwards in a countercurrent flow to the continuous phase, so that aninterface level is formed in the bottom.The extractor has perforated trays to enhance the contacting of the two liquid phases and thebutane solvent is recovered from the two phases (DAO and ASPHALT) by flashing andstripping, to be recycled for reuse.The DAO, along with the waxy distillate, is fed to the Hydrocracker. The asphalt is used asRefinery fuel or blended with gas oil to make fuel oils.
E. Conversion (Upgrading)
The refining of oil into desirable products also uses catalytic upgrading techniques, wherechemical reaction with associated energy change results in products of better quality.Several types of conversion processes are used.
The removal of sulphur from oil products by
through converting sulphurcompounds to hydrogen sulphide over a catalyst in the presence of hydrogen.
is restructuring of the oil molecules by aromisation and isomerisationendothermic reactions over a platinum catalyst (Platforming).
The manufacture of bitumen uses the
technique of oxidation and polymerisationto produce a “harder” product.These processes are indicated in the refinery block flow scheme Fig. 1 as HDT, KHT and HDS,PLAT and BITUMEN.There are other conversion processes in the Refinery which came as part of the expansion.The
process is a large complex of many units, which converts waxy distillateand deasphalted oil (DAO) into predominantly kerosine and gas oil. The process id the 2-stageShell Hydrocracking system (Hydrocracker in fig. 1) and achieves almost 100% conversion.