Ionizing electron particles were used as an efficient means of delivering energy to heavy hydrocarbon molecules. Although heavy oil reserves are known as rich sources of energy, their contribution to the energy market has been impacted by the fact that the conventional thermal or catalytic upgrading and visbreaking methods always demand a considerable energy and money investment. Therefore, application of potential alternatives with lower operating costs and higher process throughput appears to be extremely crucial in such a competitive market. In this research, high-energy electron processing technology was offered as a remedy to reduce the viscosity of heavy petroleum samples. Irradiated fluids exhibited lower viscosities than thermally cracked samples. Moreover, reaction temperature was observed to have a substantial influence on radiolysis process. At relatively low temperatures, radiation-induced upgrading stays inactive without any contribution to the viscosity reduction process. However, as the temperature exceeds a specific threshold, radiation-induced chain reactions become activated, decreasing the viscosity of irradiated samples. At the end, we have investigated the effect of different additives upon radiolysis of hydrocarbon molecules. Interestingly, radiolytic reactions were completely suppressed by some of these additives.
High energy electron particles were utilized to improve the rheological properties of heavy asphaltic petroleum fluids and upgrade them into lighter, and more utilizable, fluids. Heavy oil reserves, as one of the most abundant sources of energy, have attracted considerable attention during the last decades. However, high viscosity of such fluids always poses problems during production and transportation operations. Complex hydrocarbon molecules in heavy petroleum fluids can be affordable sources of energy if we can find a way to convert them into components of simpler structure in a cost-efficient process. While high energy demand of conventional thermal and thermo-catalytic process casts doubts on the application of such methods, emerging electron beam upgrading technology appears to provide promising achievements as a novel hydrocarbon treatment process. Radiation thermal cracking was observed to reduce the viscosity of highly asphaltic petroleum samples more than the conventional thermal cracking method. Simulated distillation analysis showed higher concentrations of lighter components in radiolyzed samples, which indicated the intensified cracking as a result of electron irradiation. Stability of the products with time is one of the main concerns because samples with altering properties may cause difficulties after the upgrading process. The viscosity of thermally cracked samples showed a substantial increase with time, while aging investigations on radiation thermal cracking products demonstrated stable properties.