An Investigation for Utilisation of Ionic liquids in the Removal of Transition Metals from Refinery Feedstocks

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Department of Chemical Engineering


Fossil fuels predominantly contain impurities that possess different molecular structures. Metal impurities of crude oils which frequently occur as metalloporphyrin complexes are of the principal target of refineries, and if not treated, these undesired constituents cost refineries considerably due to their adverse effects on the catalyst activity of hydroprocessing units and equipment corrosion problems. On the other hand, the ongoing current and future demand for vanadium in the steel industry, catalysis and flow batteries has led the researchers to be encouraged to conduct extensive researches over vanadium recovery from a variety of refineries hydrocarbon streams and the industrial wastes. Only for vanadium redox batteries, the cumulative demand for vanadium from now to 2030 is projected to be up to 370 kton, meaning there is a huge opportunity for vanadium recovery from alternative sources. Apart from crude oil and diluted bitumen from oil sands which contain a high amount of transition metals and so are the attractive target for demetallation, there are a variety of so-called wastes - such as petroleum coke fly ash, 100 Mt/year- containing relatively large amounts of vanadium and nickel which could be attractive unintentional targets. The advantage and drawbacks of different feedstocks will be explained in this report. The current and future challenges have been investigated, and attempts were made to propose solutions to those challenges.
This project is aiming to investigate the utilisation of ionic liquids to eliminate specifically vanadium and nickel via physical contact and bi-phasic separation and to investigate the recovery of both the ionic liquid and the precious metals using conventional techniques. In this report you will also read the source of metals in refineries, investigation of current demetallation techniques, mechanisms by which metals are associated in asphaltene, reported utilisation of ionic liquids for oil demetallation, electrochemical characterisation of metalloporphyrins in ionic liquids and the future market of vanadium.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/P51052X/1 30/09/2016 29/03/2022
2292558 Studentship EP/P51052X/1 30/09/2018 31/12/2021 Amir Hossein Mohammad Dezashibi
Description A method is being established through which vanadium can be selectively extracted using a unique solvent. The second step precipitates vanadium from the solvent by the selective elimination of the solvent. The process is unique and only contains two processing steps and it is virtually consumable free as the solvent is recycled through the system.
The recovered vanadium from refineries waste/industrial waste may be utilised directly in vanadiu mredox flow batteries with no further purification step.
Exploitation Route The outcome of this research would directly impact the development of vanadium redox flow batteries. It is expected to drastically lower the vanadium electrolyte cost, which contributes up to 35% of a VRFB. Energy companies who are constantly looking for alternatives to fossil fuels are expected to be the main sectors willing to take the research forward.
Sectors Construction,Energy,Environment,Transport