Monday, January 08, 2007

Crude Oil Too Thick? Zap It With Cold Electron Crackers!

Cold cracking uses beams of high-energy electrons to transform the thick parts of crude oil into oils, gasoline, and other petroleum products thin enough to pump through a pipeline. The question is whether a conservative, capital-intensive oil industry will buy the idea. To hear Brainerd tell it, refining could certainly use something like it. A lot of new oil fields have oil that’s too thick to pump, and that’s a shame, because there’s so much of the stuff. There are an estimated 2.5 trillion barrels of ultrathick oil locked up in the sands of Alberta, Canada, alone.

Cold cracking will have to be significantly better than traditional cracking practices to get the oil industry to adopt it. Accelerating electrons to suitable energies is not a process the chemical engineers in the industry have perfected or grown comfortable with.

For more information consult this literature review on cold cracking.


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