Refineries face a new challenge in selling one of the by-products of crude oil refining, namely heavy crude oil. This black, viscous oil was widely deployed as a marine fuel up until 2020. However, a recent International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreement has significantly restricted its use. The reason for this move was that heavy oil produces considerable amounts of sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide when combusted in a ship’s engine. Linde Engineering has developed a process technology called
that allows oil companies to continue using this residue product. It involves heating heavy oil to temperatures of around 1,400 degrees Celsius and adding oxygen to support sub-stoichiometric (incomplete) combustion. This produces a hydrogen-rich synthesis gas – a mixture of
and carbon monoxide (CO) that is purified in downstream steps. The H2
fraction is extremely valuable to oil refining companies, which require large quantities of this gas especially to desulphurize fuel products. Our
technology is a win-win for today’s refinery. On the one hand, they can turn a residue product into a useful commodity and, on the other, meet rising demand for H2
, which is on an upward path as stricter environmental legislation increasingly mandates lower-emission fuels.