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A clean heat exchanger
A clean heat exchanger
A dirty heat exchanger
A dirty heat exchanger
Professor Barry Crittenden
Professor Barry Crittenden

Press Release - 27 February 2006

£2.2 million research grant awarded to cut wasted energy in oil refineries

A £2.2 million grant has been awarded to three universities including Bath to find a way to make oil refineries more efficient and so cut UK energy bills by millions of pounds each year.

The universities of Bath, Cambridge and Imperial College will work together with oil refining companies to tackle the problem of fouling caused by the presence of certain compounds in crude oil. The grant is from the EPSRC.

“The research will have major implications for energy use and environmental protection world-wide,” said Professor Barry Crittenden, who is head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath. “Reduced energy consumption in the world’s refineries will inevitably lead to reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.” Professor Crittenden leads the research team at Bath.

As crude oil is distilled, the energy needed is kept as low as possible by exchanging heat between parts of the distillation equipment. But compounds in the crude oil, known as asphaltenes, foul the equipment used for this heat exchange, reducing its efficiency and costing an estimated $1.2 billion each year in the USA alone in terms of additional energy consumption, lost production and cleaning.

The researchers will look at all scales of the asphaltenes’ activity from the behaviour of molecules to the workings of engineering rigs.

The project team will collaborate with ESDU International plc and will be managed overall by Professor Geoff Hewitt at Imperial College.


The University of Bath is one of the UK's leading universities, with an international reputation for quality research and teaching. View a full list of the University's press releases: http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/

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