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Catalyst for Hydrotreating of Diesel Distillate from Shale Oil Under Moderate Conditions

A study by researchers in China has identified a catalyst—NiMoW—for the hydrotreating of the diesel distillate fraction from Fushun shale oil under relative mild conditions to produce a product that can be directly used as a transportation fuel. Their study appeared online 8 July in the ACS journal Energy & Fuels.

Shale oil has high levels of nitrogen, sulfur, and unsaturated hydrocarbons, limiting its potential use as a substitute fuel, the authors noted.

In China, reserves of oil shales account for about 500,000 billion tons. It is distributed mainly in Fushun, Liaoning province, Huadian, Jilin province, and Maoming, Guangdong province... However, the shale oils produced from oil shales contain a considerable amount of heteroatomic compounds, especially unsaturated hydrocarbons, which may cause many troubles, such as, instability of fuel during its transportation or storage...Catalytic hydrotreating may be considered as the only convenient way to remove heteroatomic compounds from shale oil. However, many papers showed that severe process conditions were needed during catalytic hydrotreating of shale oils. The concentrations of heteroatomic compounds in shale oils could be reduced, but they were still too high to be used as a transportation fuel. Denitrogenation was more difficult than desulfurization for shale oils.

—Yu et al.

The team investigated catalytic hydrotreating of the diesel distillate from Fushun shale oil was investigated using three types of catalysts at different conditions. The degrees of sulfur removal were high for all of the three catalysts, even at moderate conditions, indicating that most of the sulfur species in this distillate were reactive, which can be easily converted during the catalytic hydroprocessing. Denitrogenation was much more difficult than desulfurization, even at severe conditions, the authors found.

The NiMoW catalyst was the most active for heteroatom removal of the three.

Under relative mild conditions, it was possible to produce very stable oil from the Fushun shale oil distillate. After hydrogenation, produced oil had low contents of sulfur (41 µg g-1), nitrogen (195 µg g-1), and alkene, reduced density, and increased cetane number. The hydrotreated product can be directly used as a domestic transportation fuel.

—Yu et al.


  • Hang Yu, Shuyuan Li and Guangzhou Jin (2010) Catalytic Hydrotreating of the Diesel Distillate from Fushun Shale Oil for the Production of Clean Fuel. Energy Fuels, Article ASAP doi: 10.1021/ef100531u



This is good potential news for China and other countries with Shale Oil reserve. This could push back peak fossil oil another century or more.

What would be the total Shale to Wheel GHG, compared to existing liquid fuels.

What would be the cost per barrel?


The Chinese don't give two hoots about CO2 or Climate Change nor do the Indians.They only care about growing there economies and keeping political power. That answers your shale to wheel question, they don't care as long as it is economically competitive to the world crude market they can and will use it. Cost well here in the USA in the Green River Basin shale can be mined and surface retorted for a BBL equivalent of $35-$55 depending on grade of shale, depth of seam ect. Shell in-situ process could lower that cost to $25 using off peak energy...the cheapest off peak electricity currently is wind power when the value at night has gone negative per MWhr, wind blows strongest at night and slacks at high noon exactly opposite of the grid usage curve, but alas the politicos wont let the shale in the US ever be used there is a little over a trillion tons of mine-able shale with a yield of 1.1-1.5 bbl of oil per ton. of put another way 1.1+ Trillion barrels used for domestic consumption it would last us 200 years or more that says nothing of the huge coal reserves in the same basins that can be FT to oil as well in the $45-60 the real problem has been everytime the US talks or acts like it will explore these options opec pumps and pumps sending the price south of $45 no investor is going to put a billion dollars on the line unless they are assured a ROI of at least 10% a price floor of $50 for US oil would provide such a ROI FT coal to liquid, insitu coal gas to liquid, Shale to liquid all work at $50 BBL so does deep water OCS, Artic oil. I do this for a living this planet is awash in hydrocarbons 1.2 of the 11 trillion OBIP has been used the global average recovery rate is 20% of OBIP with secondary,and now tertiary recovery that rate is upwards of 70% OBIP for some fields and the technologies are advancing everyday. The supercritical CO2 flood method locks up more CO2 than is released by burning the oil the CO2 displaced so it is classed as carbon negative and we get a tax credit for it.It's a double pay off for us, we get paid for the barrel of oil, and we get a tax credit to be carbon negative win win and its big money too.


Very well put TXG, but I think we should assume the politicos WILL let the shale in the US be used (or maybe I just hope so).

The present administration is slyly trying to put an end to all off shore drilling (Oops I mean all US off shore drilling, of course) in an effort to redistribute our wealth to emerging nations.

The chances that they will NOT sue anyone that tries to use shale oil are fat, slim and none. The only thing for sure is they will thwart oil from the oil sands in the most "Chicago" way.

But, if there is anything that will swing the pendulum back toward the middle (and allow us to harness the energy that we so desperately need) it is the incredible incompetence of the present administration and congress.

Do not abandon hope; continue to post, Oh and I found out that OBIP means Original Bitumen In Place (I think).


TXG...If oil (liquid fuel) from local shales can be extracted for $50/barrel, why is USA importing 66% of the oil it consumes at $75/barrel? Something does not make sense here. There must be other reasons such as:

1) Lack of adequate technology.
2) Unacceptable environment damages.
3) Lack of energy required
4) High Financial risks
5) Too many voter Objections
6) Much higher shale to wheel GHG
7) Unresolved Refining problems
8) Etc

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