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Treating crude oil storage tank sludge by catalytic process and recovering valuable hydrocarbons

Kamalesh Gupta, Arun Kumar Jana, Mousumi Chakraborty, and Parimal A. Parikh

Chemical Engineering Department, SV National Institute of Technology, Surat, India



Received: 17 October 2020  Accepted: 6 February 2021


Present work deals with management of the sludge deposited at the bottom of the crude oil storage tanks. As a routine practice, this sludge is disposed of by land-filling and during its bioremediation it can quite likely emit methane gas with much higher global warming potential than that of carbon dioxide. Further loss is involved in this disposal method is that of valuable hydrocarbon cuts, and as we report here, exceeding 90 wt% of the sludge comprises of these hydrocarbons. The management term mentioned in the beginning, refers to recovery of hydrocarbons afforded by zeolite catalysed cracking of the sludge and simultaneously, eliminating methane emission. Experiments were carried out using N2 or H2 as carrier gas and using parent and desilicated ZSM-5 and parent and dealuminated zeolite Y (with or without Pt impregnation) at 500 °C and 1 atm pressure. Products were clubbed according to carbon number range corresponding to gasoline, kerosene, gas oil/heavy oil, paraffin wax, and asphaltene/bitumen. Catalytic cracking served a more useful purpose affording higher proportion of valuable lighter products as compared to thermal cracking. The product distributions have been explained on the basis of catalyst properties. Coking behavior of the catalysts also has been briefly discussed.

Keywords: Catalytic cracking; Resource recovery; Sludge treatment; Waste minimization; Zeolites

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-021-01564-4


Chemical Papers 75 (8) 4285–4296 (2021)

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