Applied separation and heteroatom identifying techniques within asphaltenes with selective adsorption and reactivity.


Asphaltenes are the heaviest and most polar fraction of crude oil and are an extremely complex mixture. This dissertation shows work performed on how to identify specific heteroatom functionalities, especially pyridyl groups, within a complex mixture using asphaltenes as a working example. Research was performed using adsorption experiments with metal oxide nanoparticle materials and a selective methylation process using iodomethane. The nanoparticles of particular interest in these experimentations were nickel oxide (NiO) and magnesium oxide (MgO). The methylation process using iodomethane is expected to be in the form of a nucleophilic bimolecular substitution. By using these methods, an understanding of how heteroatom functional groups interact in the asphaltene fraction of crude oil is better elucidated. Methods of using mass spectrometry and ion mobility coupled with mass spectrometry as it relates to analyzing complex mixtures is also a pertinent topic in this dissertation. In addition, a new method of complex mixture elucidation has been presented in scientific literature from this work. Prior to the research performed, it was not clear which specific heteroatom functionalities in the asphaltene fraction were contributing to their adsorption onto the surface of metal oxides. The research presented in this dissertation addressed this topic using a selective adsorption process involving metal oxides. Overall, the advances in separation science are shown not to rely entirely upon excessively advanced instrumentation. Instead, separation science can utilize fundamental principles and apply them effectively along with detailed analysis to attenuate the dependence on expensive technologies.



Separation science. Asphaltene.