Enhancing Light-Ends Recovery through Joint Atmospheric Distillation of Heavy Crude and Used Engine Oil

Filed in Articles by on December 8, 2022

 – Enhancing Light-Ends Recovery through Joint Atmospheric Distillation of Heavy Crude and Used Engine Oil – 

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Heavy crude oils are known to contain significant amount of high molecular-weight substances such as asphalthenes and resins hence, when refined, produce low amount of light- ends (gasoline, kerosene and diesel fractions).  Compared with light crude oils, as a refinery feed stock this singular reason coupled with difficulty of processing has made heavy crude oil business unattractive at local and global levels.

In this work, enhancement of light-ends  recovery by joint atmospheric distillation of Venezuela, Mixed (50% Venezuela and 50% Antan wt./wt.) And Antan heavy crude oils blended with used engine oil (UEO) was investigated. This was carried out by subjecting these blends to spectrophotometric analysis for optimal feed choice and subsequently acted as basis for true boiling point (TBP) distillation process.

The results show that blended Venezuela heavy crude with 1% UEO which corresponded to maximum particle size of blend and 12% UEO corresponding to minimum particle size of the blend enhanced the recovery of light-ends by extra 1.8% and 0.74% respectively.

Similarly, blended Mixed heavy crude with 16% UEO (max. Particle size of blend) and 4% UEO (min. Particle size of blend) enhanced the recovery of the light-ends by 2.32% and 2.25% respectively.

Finally, blended Antan heavy crude with 19% UEO (max. Particle size of blend) and 7% UEO (max. Particle size of blend) enhanced the recovery of the light-ends by 7.42% and 1.76% respectively.

All these confirm that on the average, the larger the particle size of the blend the higher the chance of enhancement of the recovery of the light-ends.


 The world proven reserve of crude oils is about 1.243 trillion barrels, and at daily rate of consumption (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/oil_reserves, 2009) of 2.6%, it is believed to be able to last mankind for the next 54 years.

Nigeria is joint contributor to this reserve as it ranks 6th among the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and 10th in the world. Her reserve is put at about 36 billion barrels (OPEC DATA, 2008).

At global level crude oil business is mostly centered on conventional or light crudes, such as Bonny lights, Escravos lights, Arabian lights, Venezuela lights etc.

On the contrary, very little attention is paid to heavy crudes (see Figure 2.3) because of the perception that their light distillate content (gasoline, kerosene and diesel fractions) is very low and apart from that they are relatively difficult to process. Unfortunately, light crude oil reserve is fast depleting (Swain, 1997).

The declining reserves of light crude oils have resulted in an increasing need to develop options to upgrade the known heavy crude oil reserves in order to obtain more light ends from them (Speight, 1999).

Many researchers believe that this can be achieved through many external influences, such as thermolysis, photolysis (Ajinomoh, 2005), acoustic sound on the crude or its blending with hydrocarbon additives before distillation (Petrakov, 2000; Mohammed, 2001).

In this research work, the last option is considered by investigating the use of used engine oil (UEO) for upgrading some heavy crude oils. The role of used engine oil in this work is fundamentally based on the theory that it can partially reduce the bonding energy of the crude oil micelle thereby availing its components (especially porphyrins and other organometallic compounds in the core region) to ‘effective’ distillation process (Saidakhmedov et al, 1986).


Ajinomoh, C.S. (2005). Physico-chemical methods of activating heavy crude oil feedstock components. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation. Moscow Pure Chemical Engineering Academy, Moscow, Russia.

Anderson, E.V., Brown, R. And Bolton, C.E. (1960). Introduction to the Fundamentals of Distillation. In: Holland, C.D., Fundamentals and Modeling of Separation Processes. Prentice-Hall International Series Inc., Canada, p. 43.

Anonymous (1969). Atmospheric Tower. Petroleum Refining Distillation Manual. Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Co. Ltd. Library, pp. 1-89.

Anonymous (1983). The Petroleum Handbook, 6th Edition, compiled by staff of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies; Elsevier Science Publishing Company Inc. Amsterdam, pp. 1-4, 442-443.

Anonymous (1965). Work and kinetic energy. In: Physics. Second Edition, Physical Science Study Committee. D.C. Heath and Company, Boston, USA, pg.402.

Baker E.W. and Palmer S.E. (1978). In: The Porphyrins. Volume I. Structure and Synthesis. Part A., D. Dolphin (Editor). Academic Press, New York.

CSN Team.

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