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Impact of oil composition on microwave heating behavior of heavy oils

Zhang, Yang; Adam, Mohamed; Hart, Abarasi; Wood, Joseph; Rigby, Sean P.; Robinson, John P.


Yang Zhang

Abarasi Hart

Joseph Wood

Professor of Chemical Engineering

John P. Robinson


Electromagnetic heating techniques have recently received significant attention as alternatives to conventional heating methods for thermal processing of viscous and heavy oils. One of the benefits of electromagnetic heating is that the electromagnetic field can penetrate the viscous oil and the rock matrix, allowing heating to take place a significant distance away from the electromagnetic source. Opportunities exist for electromagnetic heating in overcoming the heat-transfer limitations within viscous oils, and potentially as a down-hole or in-situ heating technique to raise the temperature within a reservoir. The fundamental interaction of electromagnetic energy with viscous and heavy oils and their constituent components is poorly-understood, and this study enhances the understanding of these interactions at microwave frequencies by establishing the effect of temperature on the dielectric properties of heavy oil and its SARA fractions. The dielectric properties of two heavy oils were studied at temperatures up to 300 °C and frequencies from 900 MHz to 3.0 GHz. The loss factor of both oils was found to increase significantly with temperature, which was linked to a corresponding reduction in viscosity. It is shown for the first time, contrary to previous assertions in the literature, that aromatics and resins are the main contributors towards dielectric loss in heavy oils, whereas saturates and asphaltenes were found to have a negligible influence on the loss factor of the oil. Thus, it will be seen that, at higher temperatures or where there is a high abundance of aromatics and resins, the oils are more susceptible to being heated directly with microwaves, opening up new opportunities for microwave processing of oils in refinery and field settings without a need for microwave-absorbing additives.


Zhang, Y., Adam, M., Hart, A., Wood, J., Rigby, S. P., & Robinson, J. P. (in press). Impact of oil composition on microwave heating behavior of heavy oils. Energy and Fuels,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 10, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 10, 2018
Deposit Date Feb 2, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 11, 2019
Journal Energy & Fuels
Electronic ISSN 0887-0624
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in Energy & Fuels, copyright © 2018 American Chemical Society
after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see


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