Researchers Eye Crude and Corrosion


Researchers at a Stanford University lab are working on a method of analyzing crude oil for sulfur content in hopes of more easily determining corrosion risks to surfaces in contact with the substance.

Engineers from Chevron and the University of Saskatchewan are working on the project at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, operated by Stanford for the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal is to identify specific properties of the sulfur in a given batch of crude, which will help to analyze corrosion risk in a way that simply measuring the amount of sulfur doesn’t.

“We can measure the concentration of sulfur, but it doesn’t tell you about the reactivity,” says Monica Barney, of Chevron. “Knowing the type of sulfur in crude oil is critically important for predicting properties related to corrosion.”

'Tender X-Rays'

The team is developing a way to use a combination of spectroscopy techniques to sort out when crude might possess extra potential to corrode. Barney and her Chevron colleagues hooked in with Saskatchewan researchers Graham George and Ingrid Pickering when they found research the pair had done using sulfur K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy.

Together, the Chevron and Saskatchewan engineers worked on a way to use “tender X-rays”—those that are lower in energy than typical “hard” X-rays, but higher than “soft” X-rays—to analyze the sulfur in a given volume of crude oil. According to Stanford, crude has a large variety of different sulfur compounds in it, making it difficult to analyze without such a specialized technique.

“By looking at crude oil with a combination of X-ray spectroscopy techniques, we were able to examine and describe the complex chemistry of the sulfur compounds with high specificity,” George says.

The work done by the Chevron-Saskatchewan team is part of a larger Chevron project that the company hopes will help to better predict corrosion in crude oil facilities and understand its relationship with the sulfur in crude.


Tagged categories: AS; Asia Pacific; Colleges and Universities; Corrosion; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Latin America; NA; North America; Oil and Gas; Program/Project Management; Research; SA; U.S. Department of Energy

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