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Revista ION

Print version ISSN 0120-100X


DIAZ ALVAREZ, Juan Carlos; MARTINEZ REY, Ramiro; PATINO REYES, Edgar Javier  and  BARRERO ACOSTA, Rigoberto. Experimental study on the efficiency of an ultrasound treatment in a continuous flow system for viscosity reduction of heavy crude oil. Rev. ion [online]. 2013, vol.26, n.2, pp.47-63. ISSN 0120-100X.

The transportation of heavy crude oils through pipelines is very hard due to their high viscosity and low mobility. Nowadays, high intensity ultrasound is being explored as a new potential alternative to reduce the viscosity of heavy crude oils and facilitate the transport by pipeline. This work studies the effects of ultrasonic energy on the viscosity of heavy crude oil. This is done through a systematic experimental study in a pilot scale continuous flow system, in which the influence of process variables such as treatment temperature (308 y 319K), exposure time (5.66 y 16.98s), and sonic intensity (170-250 y 400-680kW/m2) is analyzed. The study revealed that the treatment temperature in the proven range has not a significant effect in the efficiency of ultrasonic vibrations to reduce the heavy crude viscosity. On the other hand, it was found that the increase of exposure time favors the viscosity reduction. It also observed that sonic intensity in the established levels has an effect favorable or unfavorable depending of the exposure time magnitude. This investigation represents an important advance in the industrial application of ultrasound technology, since it is the first study that shows essential information about the effectiveness of a continuous ultrasonic treatment process to reduce the viscosity of heavy crude oil.

Keywords : heavy crude oils transportation; ultrasound; acoustic cavitation; vacuum residue upgrading.

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