Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Engineering Science


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering


Briens, Cedric L.

2nd Supervisor

Pjontek, Dominic



Fluid CokingTM is an upgrading process used to produce higher-value products from heavy hydrocarbons through thermal cracking. A Hot Pilot Plant is being designed for potential use to optimize commercial Fluid Cokers.

A Cold Model Fluid Coker was operated in this thesis to identify design limitations restricting operation at the required conditions. Design changes were implemented, and their impact on the system fluid dynamics were characterized. Successful operation of at required conditions was demonstrated.

Pressure measurements provided rapid feedback on potential issues. Models for bed expansion and entrainment flux were developed, which can be used to extrapolate to the Hot Model operating conditions. A model was developed to predict the probability of solids in the dipleg reaching a critical level, reducing solids losses. The model provided an accurate prediction of the behaviour of solids backups in the dipleg and can be used in the Hot Model Pilot Plant.

Summary for Lay Audience

Bitumen, a component present in oil sands, requires upgrading though thermal cracking to produce more valuable, lighter products. The Fluid CokingTM process utilizes two fluidized beds, units consisting of gas injected into a bed of small particles to provide liquid-like behaviour to the gas solids mixture.

A Fluid Coker Pilot Plant that will operate at conditions used in commercial Fluid Coker (a “Hot Model”) is being designed for potential use in Alberta. It will be used to develop and test methods to monitor important features of commercial Fluid Cokers.

The purpose of this thesis was to operate a Fluid Coker Pilot Plant at room temperature (a “Cold Model”) to identify limitations to the original design and provide insight prior to the construction of the Hot Model. Phenomena that would prevent operation at the required plant conditions were studied to suggest design improvements. The impact of design changes were characterized to demonstrate successful operation at required conditions in the Cold Model.

A pressure measurement system with a fast response time was developed to provide rapid feedback on potential operating issues. Models for bed expansion and entrainment flux were found for the Cold Model, which can be used in the design stage or to estimate the entrainment rate under other operating conditions. A model to predict the probability of solids in the dipleg reaching a critical level that would results in excessive solids losses from the Cold Model was developed.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 01, 2024