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(19) United States

US 20070284285A1

(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2007/0284285 A1

 

Stepanik et al.

(43) Pub. Date:

Dec. 13, 2007

(54) METHOD OF UPGRADING A HEAVY OIL

(52) US.

208/106

 

FEEDSTOCK

 

(57)

ABSTRACT

(76)

Inventors:

Terence Mitchell Stepanik,

 

PinaWa (CA); Christopher Barton

A pretreatment process is described for heavy hydrocarbon

Saunders, PinaWa (CA); John

oil feedstock, such as oils extracted from tar sands. The

Wesley Barnard, Lac du Bonnet

feedstock is passed through a heated, continuous ?oW elec

(CA)

tron or X-ray treatment Zone. The process is designed to

 

alloW the feedstock to be conditioned With ozone-containing

 

Correspondence Address:

air, steam or a hydrogen donor gas prior to electron/X-ray

ADE & COMPANY INC.

2157 Henderson Highway

WINNIPEG, MB R2G1P9

treatment. The ozone-containing air stream may be the

stream produced in the electron treatment Zone. After con

ditioning, the heavy oil is heated to a speci?ed temperature

(21) Appl. No.:

11/758,216

and uniformly treated With high-energy beams of electrons

 

or X-rays. Akey feature of the invention is the electron/X-ray

(22)

Filed:

Jun. 5, 2007

treatment Zone may use multiple accelerators or a beam

Related US. Application Data

(60) Provisional application No. 60/812,099, ?led on Jun.

splitter to ensure acceptable dose distributions in the ?owing

feedstock. Another key feature is the recirculation of vola

tiles back into the feedstock. According to the novel feature,

 

9, 2006.

the process produces a treated feedstock having a loWer

 

average molecular Weight and boiling point than the original

 

Publication Classi?cation

feedstock, Without signi?cant coke formation. The fraction

(51)

Int. Cl.

of gas oil collected during distillation is increased signi?

C10G 9/00

(2006.01)

cantly.

.

Llnc #1

V

Feedstock

20

2%

Vent Line

X

Prcheater

Steam & 4'2

50

Light

Fractions

‘r

Distillation

A 26;

 

Hydrogen

#

Donor Gas

EB Treatment Zone

 

#7

L

k

A

+ 20

Ozone

Containing Air

 

2L}

Heavier

Electron Accelerator

Facility

Cooling

Air

Fractions

US 2007/0284285 A1

Dec. 13, 2007

METHOD OF UPGRADING A HEAVY OIL FEEDSTOCK

[0001] This application claims the bene?t under 35 U.S.C.

119(e) of US. provisional application Ser. No. 60/812,099,

?led Jun. 9, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] This invention relates to the upgrading of a heavy

oil feedstock, for example bitumen extracted from tar sands.

This pretreatment process can be tailored for the speci?c

hydrocarbon mixture used and the ?nal upgraded oil prop

erties desired. The process variables include electron dose,

dose rate, temperature during electron treatment, pressure

and selective additives to enhance the electron e?‘ect.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Heavy oil and bitumen consist of large hydrocar

bon molecules. Upgrading processes add hydrogen atoms

and/or remove carbon atoms, Which converts the bitumen

into a product similar to conventional light crude oil.

[0004]

The direct upgrading of heavy crude oils is di?i

cult. Distillation typically yields loW levels of distillates.

The remaining residual oils cannot be added in signi?cant

amounts to ?uid catalytic crackers because of the extraor

dinarily high levels of metals and carbon residue, Which

result in a high level of hydrogen generation and high coke

on catalyst respectively. Therefore, coking, Which is one of

several thermal cracking processes, has traditionally been

the process of choice for upgrading heavy oils. While coking

does remove a signi?cant amount of the metals and carbon

residue, the quality of the produced liquids is poor. They are

high in sulfur, ole?ns, diole?ns and heavy aromatics and, as

a result, require a substantial amount of additional

hydrotreating.

[0005] One alternative to coking is visbreaking, Which is

another Widely applied thermal cracking process for the

conversion of residual oils (J. F. LePage et al.; Resid and

Heavy Oil Processing, Editions Technip, Paris, France,

1992). Thermal visbreaking is characteriZed by high tem

perature and short residence time; so that, unlike coking, the

cracking reactions are terminated before coke is made.

Visbreaking alone does not signi?cantly change the heteroa

tom content

(S, N), metals or asphaltene content of the feed.

Its sole function is molecular Weight (e.g. boiling range)

reduction and, hence, loWering of viscosity.

[0006] An issue With thermal visbreaking is that visbreak

ing and other mild thermal processes result in cleavage of

the alkyl side chains from asphaltenes, resulting in the

asphaltenes precipitating and subsequently forming depos

its, Which, if not controlled, foul processing equipment With

coke. (R. C. Schucker and C. F. KeWeshan, The Reactivity

of Cold Lake Asphaltenes, Prepr. Div. Fuel Chem., Amer.

Chem. Soc., 1980, 25(3), 155-165). Solvent extraction ofthe

asphaltenes is possible, but results in high energy consump

tion for solvent removal and larger equipment siZes. There

fore, there remains a need in the art for improvements to

heavy feed upgrading that Will overcome the above short

comings.

[0007] The process of radiation-thermal cracking (RTC)

and its individual fractions Was investigated by Soviet

scientists and these data are presented in the folloWing

documents:

[0008] Method for Oils and Oil Residua Re?ning, Patent

of Republic of KaZakstan N 4676 of 16 Jul. 1996 (Priority

of KaZakstan N 9404341 of 14 Apr. 1994).

[0009]

Zaykin Y. A., Zaykina R. F., Nadirov N. K., Mirkin

  • G. System for Complex Natural and Industrial Chemical

Compounds Reprocessing and Regeneration. Priority of

KaZakstan 970592.1 of 26 Jul. 97.

[0010] Chesnokov B. P., Nadirov N. K., Kiryshatov O. A.,

Kiryshatov A. I., Zaykin Y. A., Zaykina R. F., Vaytsul A. N.

Method for Chemical Reactions Initiations During Oil and

Oil Products Processing and Device for Its RealiZation.

Priority of Russia N 97-10-7263/25 (007710).

[0011]

Mirkin G., Nadirov N. K., Zaikina R. F., Zaikin Y.

  • A. System for processing and re?ning chemical composi

tions. Priority of USA N 09/100, 453 of 06/19.

[0012] Other related references include:

[0013]

Reference 1: G. M. Panchenko, A. V. Putilov, T. N.

Zhuravlov et al. Investigations of the basic rule of the

radiation thermal cracking of N-hexadecane. High Energy

Chemistry, v. 15, #5, 1981, p. 426

[0014] In Reference 1, the process Was demonstrated With

n-hexane. The gamma dose rate changed from 7.8 up to 16.7

Gy/ s, the maximally absorbed dose constituted 20 kGy. The

autoclave pressure depended on temperature and conditions

of the experiment and did not exceed 10 MPa. The experi

ments Were conducted at temperatures from 300 to 400° C.

The experimental conclusions included the possibility of

using a high-temperature nuclear reactor to irradiate pro

duction volumes of heavy oil.

[0015]

Reference 2: G. I. Zhuravlov, S. V. VoZnesenskiy,

  • I. V. Borisenko et al. Radiation-thermal effect on the heavy

oil residium, High Energy Chemistry, v. 25, #1, 1991, p. 27.

[0016] According to Reference 2 gas oil Was subjected to

radiation thermal cracking at temperatures of 300° to 400°

  • C. in the dose range 50 to 200 kGy, With a gamma

dose rate

of 5.1 Gy/ s. This study shoWed that the loW dose

rate RTC

process increased the conversion of molecular Weight com

pounds by 50 to 100% as compared to the thermal process

alone. Irradiation also contributed to the process of sulphur

removal of the light oil products obtained. As in Reference

1, the authors described an industrial process of applying

heat and radiation from a nuclear reactor.

[0017]

Reference 3: N. K. Nadirov, R. F. Zaykina, Yu. A.

Zaykin. State and perspectives of radiation treatment of heavy oil and natural bitumen. NIIETF KaZGY, NPO

“KaZneftebitum”, Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan (1995).

[0018] Reference 3 presented the results of a study of RTC

of a mixture of heavy oil fractions With boiling point of

greater than 400° C., using a 4 MeV linear accelerator. The

dose rate Was varied from 1 to 4 kGy/s, With an absorbed

dose of 1 to 40 kGy. Both static and ?oWing experiments

Were completed. Under these irradiation conditions, the

optimal temperature for the RTC process Was 400 to 420° C.

The output of gasoline fractions With a boiling temperature

of less than 200° C. Was 50% higher than that

for thermal

cracking alone. The gasoline fraction obtained had a high

octane range (76 to 80) and loW sulfur content. The per

centage of aromatic and naphthenes compounds also

increased With the RTC process than With thermal cracking

alone.

[0019]

Reference 4: Wu G., Katsumura Y., et al. Effect of

radiation on the thermal cracking of n-hexadecane, Ind. And

Eng. Chem.

Res.i1997, 36, N6, p. 1973

[0020] Reference 4 describes liquid and gas-phase RTC

cracking of n-hexane at 300 to 400° C., With gamma

irradiation. The liquid phase Was irradiated With dose rates

ranging from 150 to 460 Gy/h and the gas phase Was

US 2007/0284285 A1

Dec. 13, 2007

irradiated with dose rates ranging from 240 to 560 Gy/h. It

was shown that irradiation abruptly increased the process

rate, not affecting the set of ?nal carboniferous cracking products. A large amount of molecular hydrogen was formed

by radiation thermal cracking.

[0021] Reference 5: A. K. Pikaev. New elaboration of

radiation technology in Russia (review). High Energy

Chemistry, v.33, #1, 1999, p. 3

[0022] Reference 5 describes development work to com

mercialiZe RTC using gamma irradiation in a closed static

system. The volume of the test vessel was 120 cm3. The

results obtained from this higher volume experiment corre

sponded to literature data in the temperature range of 250 to

300° C. The volume of light gas fractions was increased by

up to 5%, with a lowering of viscosity of the remaining oil.

A large amount of hydrogen, saturated and unsaturated

hydrocarbons, and hydrogen sulphide were also identi?ed in

the reaction vessel.

[0023]

Reference 6: R. F. Zaykina, Yu. A. Zaykin, T. B.

Mamonova, and N. K. Nadirov, Radiation-thermal process

ing of high-viscous oil from KaraZhanbas ?eld, Rad. Phys.

Chem., 60 (2001) 211-221.

[0024]

Reference 6 examined the RTC process for high

viscous oil from KaraZhanbas, using electron beam (EB)

treatment from a 2 MeV, 4 kW linear accelerator. The unique

feature of their experimental set-up was that the oils were

heated from 2000 C. to 400° C. by continuous EB treatment,

and the volatiles were removed from the oil during irradia

tion. The study con?rmed that total dose and dose rate

impact both the yield and the composition of the gas oil

fractions with boiling temperatures up to 350° C. The

mechanisms associated with the formation of aromatic

hydrocarbons were also discussed.

[0025]

Reference 7: Yu. A. Zaykin and R. F. Zaykina,

Simulation of radiation-thermal cracking of oil products by

reactive oZone-containing mixtures, Rad. Phys. Chem, 71

(2004) 475-478.

[0026] Reference 7 described the bene?ts of combining

RTC and oZonolysis to lower the temperature required to

maximiZe the gas oil fractions with boiling points below

350° C. The RTC process required a preheating temperature

of 420° C., while bubbling oZone-containing air through the

oil lowers the required treatment temperature by 15 to 20° C.

This combined process was shown to reduce the concentra

tion of high-molecular weight aromatic compounds as well.

[0027]

Reference 8: R. F. Zaykina, Yu. A. Zaykin, Sh. G.

Yagudin and l. M. Fahruddinov, Speci?c approaches to

radiation processing of high-sulfuric oil, Rad. Phys. Chem.,

 

71 (2004) 467-470.

[0028] Reference 8, a follow-on to Reference 7, describes

the bene?cial effects of the RTC/oZonolysis process for the

desuphuriZation of light fractions of gas oil and considerably

reduced the total amount of sulphur concentrated in high

molecular weight compounds.

[0029] A typical process for upgrading hydrocarbon feed

stock is the thermal cracking process. lllustratively, process

?red heaters are used to provide the requisite heat for the

reaction. The feedstock ?ows through a plurality of coils

within the ?red heater, the coils being arranged in a manner

that maximiZes the heat transfer to the hydrocarbon ?owing

through the coils. In conventional coil pyrolysis, dilution

steam is used to inhibit coke formation in the cracking coil.

A further bene?t of high steam dilution is the inhibition of

the coke deposition in the exchangers used to rapidly quench

the cracking reaction. An illustration of the conventional

process is seen in US. Pat. No. 3,487,121 (Hallee).

[0030]

The use of steam in the hydrocarbon stream

requires larger furnace capacity and equipment than would

be necessary for the hydrocarbon without steam. Further,

when steam is used, energy and equipment must be provided

to generate and superheat the steam.

[0031] A variety of attempts have been made to pretreat

heavy hydrocarbon feedstock to render it suitable for ther

mal cracking. An option is the vaporization of the feedstock

with large quantities of steam to create a very low system

partial pressure (Gartside, US. Pat. No. 4,264,432). Others have proposed solvent extraction pretreatment of the hydro

carbon to remove the asphaltene and coke precursors.

Another attempt is the thermal pretreatment of resids to

yield a heavy hydrocarbon, then catalytically hydrotreating

a portion of the heavy hydrocarbon feedstock before the

steam cracking step (US. Pat. No. 4,065,379, Soonawala, et

al.) and similarly, the pre-treatment of hydrocarbon feed

stock by initial catalytic cracking to produce a naphtha or

naphtha-like feed for ultimate thermal cracking (US. Pat.

No. 3,862,898, Boyd, et al.). These processes all improve the

cracking of heavy hydrocarbon, however, in most instances

the process suffers from either the expense of large steam

dilution equipment

or the unsatisfactory increase of tar and

coke accumulation in the process equipment.

[0032] Known attempts to upgrade a heavy oil feedstock

have thus far yielded unsatisfactory results.

[0033]

SUMMARY

According to one aspect of the invention there is

provided a method of upgrading a heavy oil feedstock, the

method comprising:

[0034]

forming a continuous ?ow of the heavy oil feed

stock;

[0035]

heating the continuous ?ow to a prescribed tem

perature;

[0036] cracking the heavy oil feedstock in the continuous

?ow by directing electrons or x-rays at the continuous ?ow.

[0037]

The method may include recycling a separated

portion comprising volatiZed parts back into the continuous

?ow prior to electron and/or x-ray cracking.

[0038] Constituents of the continuous ?ow subsequent to

electron/x-ray cracking can be varied by varying an amount

of the separated portion recycled back into the continuous

?ow.

[0039] A separated portion, comprising parts of the con

tinuous ?ow which are volatiZed when heating the ?ow to

said prescribed temperature, are preferably recycled back

into the ?ow.

[0040] Conditioning the continuous ?ow prior to electron/

x-ray treatment, may include adding to the ?ow a selected

one or more of oZone, steam, a hydrogen donor gas, or

recycling back into the ?ow a portion of the continuous ?ow

which is volatiZed when preconditioning.

[0041]

Electron/x-ray cracking is preferably done at or

near atmospheric pressure.

[0042]

The continuous ?ow may be mixed during elec

tron/x-ray cracking by providing ba?les in a path of the ?ow

or by providing moving mixing blades in a path of the ?ow.

[0043] The electrons or x-rays are directed at the continu

ous ?ow from a plurality of opposing directions.

[0044] As described herein a continuous ?ow process for

the upgrading of a heavy oil feedstock may comprise the

steps of preheating the feedstock, electron or x-ray cracking

said feedstock, using electron beams from an accelerator, at

conditions that will produce a cracked product stream hav

ing a lower average molecular weight and boiling point than

said feedstock without signi?cant coke formation; collecting

US 2007/0284285 A1

Dec. 13, 2007

from said product stream light ends that volatilize, including

any Water that might be in the stream; and feeding both the

volatiZed product stream and the heated liquid product

stream to the heavy oil distillation process.

[0045] The feed may comprise a heavy oil stream having

an API gravity of less than 20°.

[0046] The electron accelerator may be either a pulsed or

continuous beam design, With a beam poWer ranging from 1

to 700 kW and a beam energy ranging from 1 to 12 MeV.

[0047] The electron/x-ray treatment Zone may be vented,

With the volatiZed gas stream being sent to the distillation

process directly or circulated through the feedstock preheat

ing tank prior to being sent to the distillation process.

[0048] Air may be circulated through the feedstock stor

age tank to incorporate oZone into the feedstock. OZone is

produced during the electron treatment of air.

[0049] The pretreatment system may introduce steam or a

hydrogen donor gas, or both, to the feedstock either prior to

heating or just before electron or x-ray treatment.

[0050] The method may further include arranging a por

tion of the continuous How to comprise hydrocarbons having

a boiling point loWer than said prescribed temperature prior

to electron or x-ray cracking by maintaining under pressure

in the continuous ?oW at least a portion of hydrocarbons

volatiZed during heating.

[0051]

One embodiment of the invention Will noW be

described in conjunction With the accompanying draWings in

Which:

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0052]

FIG. 1 is schematic illustration of a preferred

embodiment of the method of upgrading a heavy oil feed

stock according to the present invention.

[0053]

In the draWings like characters of reference indi

cate corresponding parts in the different ?gures.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0054] The present invention relates to a process for

upgrading petroleum feedstocks, using a combination of

electron cracking, With and Without added oZone, steam or

hydrogen, at conditions that Will not produce signi?cant

[0057] Referring noW to the overall process shoWn in FIG.

1, the feedstock is ?rst formed into a continuous ?oW

through a ?rst ?oW line #1 prior to entering the inlet of a

pre-heater (20) in series With the ?rst ?oW line and Which

preheats the feedstock to a prescribed temperature. The How

exits an outlet of the pre-heater (20) at a second ?oW line #2

to be directed into an inlet of an electron treatment Zone (22)

in series With the second ?oW line #2. Within this Zone (22),

the How is subjected to electrons generated from an electron

accelerator facility (24). After treatment the How exits an

outlet of the Zone (22) through a third ?oW line #6 Which

directs the How to a ?rst inlet of a distillation unit (26) Where

the various fractions of hydrocarbons in the How are sepa

rated and passed onto subsequent re?ning operations.

[0058]

Turning noW

more particularly to the How at the

?rst ?oW line 1, prior to entering the pre-heater (20), the

feedstock may be preconditioned by the addition of steam

and a hydrogen donor gas injected into either into ?oW line

#1 prior to entering the pre-heater (20) or into ?oW line #2

betWeen the pre-heater (20) and the electron treatment Zone

(22).

[0059] The pre-heater (20) in the illustrated embodiment is

operated at loW pressure such that any parts of the How

Which are volatiZed due to the preheating can be vented from

an auxiliary outlet of the pre-heater (20) through a vent line

#3

to a control valve (28) in series With the vent line #3. The

control valve then determines Whether the vented volatiles

are fed directly to the distillation unit (26) at an auxiliary

inlet of the distillation unit separate from How line #6 or

alternatively fed through an additional ?oW line #4 for

injection back into the continuous flow at How line #2 just

prior to entering the electron treatment Zone (22).

[0060] Similarly the electron treatment Zone (22) may also

be vented from an auxiliary outlet at vent line #5 to remove

any parts Which are volatiZed during the electron treatment.

A control valve #30 in series With the vent line #5 receives

the volatiles vented from the electron treatment Zone and

then subsequently controls Whether these volatiles are either

directed back into the continuous ?oW at How line #2 just

prior to entering the electron treatment Zone, or alternatively

directed to the distillation unit (26) along With the volatiles

vented from the pre-heater through vent line #3.

[0061]

The electrons may be directed at the How from

amounts of coke. Suitable feedstocks for use in the present

multiple directions to ensure that substantially the entirety of

invention include heavy and reduced petroleum crude oil;

the How is subjected to electron beams.

petroleum atmospheric distillation bottoms; petroleum

[0062] When pre-treating or pre-conditioning the feed

vacuum distillation bottoms, or residuum; pitch; asphalt and

stock prior to entering the pre-heater (20), a conditioning

tar sand bitumen. Such feeds Will typically have a Conrad

tank may be provided in series With the How line 1 of the

son carbon content of at least 5 Wt. %, generally from about

How prior to entering the pre-heater. The pre-treatment or

5 to 50 Wt. %. As

to Conradson carbon residue, see ASTM

pre-conditioning may comprise the addition of one or more

Test Dl89-l65.

of oZone, steam or a hydrogen donor gas as noted above.

[0055]

Electron cracking, as employed herein, usually

results in about 15 to 70 Wt. % conversion of the heavy oil

feed to loWer boiling products (boiling temperature <350o

C.). This conversion rate is typically 50% to 100% higher

than using the current thermal cracking process. The entire

group of reactions takes place in the “electron treatment

Zone”; and the average residence time of the feed in the

treatment Zone is a function of the poWer of the machine

being used and the design of the How chamber.

The resi

dence time has to be suf?cient to alloW the feed stream to

absorb l to 50 k] of electrons per kilogram of feedstock,

depending on the composition of the initial feed.

[0056]

Our process is typically carried out at or near

atmospheric pressure; hoWever, some improvement in the

quality and stability of the product can be achieved by the

introduction of a hydrogen donor gas and/or steam.

[0063] According to the method described herein, the

heavy oil feedstock is ?rst formed as a continuous ?oW

Which is heated to a prescribed treatment temperature prior

to the electron treatment Zone (22). Heating may occur at the

pre-heater (20) or both at a pre-heater and pre-conditioning

stage prior to the treatment Zone (22). When heating, parts

of the How having a boiling point loWer than the prescribed

treatment temperature Will be volatiZed, but according to the

present invention these volatiZed parts may be arranged to

be present in the continuous ?oW prior to the electron

treatment Zone. This is accomplished either by maintaining

the volatiles under pressure in the How or by returning the

volatiles to the How just prior to the electron treatment Zone.

These hydrocarbons of loWer molecular Weight encourage a

greater number of reactions and a greater degree of cracking

of heavier oil molecules in the How.

US 2007/0284285 A1

Dec. 13, 2007

[0064]

When it is desirable to vary the composition of

molecules in the end product at the distillation unit (26), the

amount of volatiles from the pre-heater or the electron

treatment Zone Which are returned back into the How prior

to further electron beam treatment can be varied in a

controllable manner to, in turn, vary the types of reactions

taking place in the treatment Zone.

[0065] As described herein, the method according to the

present invention generally comprises the following steps:

[0066]

l) A heavy oil feedstock is introduced to the

process through Line #1. The How rate is a function of the

accelerator poWer and the capacity of the electron treatment

Zone. For an electron dose of 10 kGy supplied to the

feedstock, throughput is up to 1.70 barrels per hour for every

kilowatt of installed electron poWer.

[0067]

2) The feedstock may be conditioned With air

containing oZone produced by the electron/x-ray treatment

of the cooling air stream. OZone may also be added from

other oZone-generating technologies. Any parts of the feed

stock Which are volatiZed during this preconditioning may

be retained in the feedstock ?oW or may be vented off and

returned to the feedstock ?oW just prior to subsequent

electron treatment at Line #3.

[0068] 3) The conditioned feedstock is pumped through

Line #1 to the continuous ?oW preheater, Where the feed

stock is raised in temperature, up to a maximum of 4250 C.

Steam and preheated hydrogen donor gas, such as methane,

may be injected into the feedstock either prior to the

preheater or just prior to electron/x-ray treatment to control

speci?c reactions. The light fractions released during pre

heating are pumped through Line #3 to either the Distillation

Unit or recirculated back to the feedstock via Line #4 to

enhance the effects of the cracking process.

[0069] 4) The feedstock exits the preheater through Line

#2 and enters the electron treatment Zone. As the tempera ture is maintained, the feedstock is treated With electrons or

X-rays to a dose of up to 50 kGy. The treatment Zone is

operated at or near atmospheric pressure. The treatment Zone

is designed to insure that the feedstock depth during treat

ment is optimiZed for the electron or x-ray energy used. The

How rate, dictated by the required electron/x-ray dose, Will

be suf?cient to minimiZe fouling Within the apparatus. The

process may include mixing the feedstock stream during

electron treatment, either With ba?les or blades in the How

path. The light fractions released during electron/x-ray treat

ment may be pumped through Line #5 to either the Distil

lation Unit or recirculated back to the feedstock stream prior

to electron/x-ray treatment to further enhance the effects of

the cracking process.

[0070]

5) The accelerator produces either a pulsed or a

continuous electron beam. The air stream from the electron/

x-ray treatment Zone With oZone produced during the elec

tron/x-ray treatment, may be pumped to the inlet line for the

feedstock (Line 7) to enhance the effects of the cracking

process.

[0071] 6) The accelerator facility may generate multiple

beams, either With multiple accelerators or the use of beam

splitters to alloW the feedstock to be treated from multiple

sides in the electron treatment Zone. Standard shielding

designs for accelerator facilities may be used for this facility.

[0072]

7) The cracked feedstock is noW appropriately

conditioned and fed through Line #6 into the Distillation

Unit. In the Distillation Unit, light fractions are volatiliZed

and exit. The less volatile fraction of the feedstock stream

exits the Distillation Unit and continues through the tradi

tional heavy oil processing stages.

[0073]

Since various modi?cations can be made in the

invention as herein above described, and many apparently

Widely different embodiments of same made Within the spirit

and scope of the claims Without department

from such spirit

and scope, it is intended that all matter contained in the

accompanying speci?cation shall be interpreted as illustra

tive only and not in a limiting sense.

  • 1. A method of upgrading a heavy oil feedstock, the

method comprising:

forming a continuous How of the heavy oil feedstock;

heating the continuous How to a prescribed temperature;

cracking the heavy oil feedstock in the continuous ?oW by

directing either electrons or x-rays at the continuous

How.

  • 2. The method according to claim 1 including recycling a

separated portion comprising volatiZed parts of the continu

ous ?oW back into the continuous ?oW prior to electron

cracking.

  • 3. The method according to claim 1 including varying

constituents of the continuous ?oW subsequent to cracking

by varying an amount of the separated portion recycled back

into the continuous How.

  • 4. The method according to claim 1 including recycling

back into the How a separated portion comprising a part of

the continuous ?oW Which is volatiZed When heating the

How to said prescribed temperature.

  • 5. The method according to claim 1 including precondi

tioning the continuous ?oW prior to heating to said pre

scribed temperature by adding to the How a selected one or

more of oZone, steam or a hydrogen donor gas and recycling

back into the How a separated portion comprising parts of

the continuous ?oW Which are volatiZed When precondition

ing.

  • 6. The method according to claim 1 including reducing a

cross sectional dimension of the continuous How in one

direction prior to electron cracking.

  • 7. The method according to claim 1 including recycling

back into the How

a separated portion of the continuous ?oW

comprising hydrocarbon molecules.

  • 8. The method according to claim 1 including electron or

x-ray cracking at conditions near atmospheric pressure.

  • 9. The method according to claim 1 including mixing the

continuous ?oW during electron or x-ray cracking.

10. The method according to claim 1 including directing

electrons at the continuous ?oW from more than one direc

tion.

11. A method according to claim 1 including arranging a

portion of the continuous How to comprise hydrocarbons

having a boiling point loWer than said prescribed tempera

ture prior to electron or x-ray cracking by maintaining under

pressure in the continuous ?oW at least a portion of hydro

carbons volatiZed during heating.

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