Researchers Study How Metal Contamination Makes Gasoline Production Inefficient

SSRL X-rays are focused to illuminate a small sample of catalysts inside a movable cylindrical holder. A lens magnifies the resulting sample image onto a screen, a CCD camera captures the 2-D image, and software is used to reconstruct a 3-D image of the single catalyst particle from a series of these 2-D images. (Florian Meirer/Utrecht University)

SSRL X-rays are focused to illuminate a small sample of catalysts inside a movable cylindrical holder. A lens magnifies the resulting sample image onto a screen, a CCD camera captures the 2-D image, and software is used to reconstruct a 3-D image of the single catalyst particle from a series of these 2-D images. (Florian Meirer/Utrecht University)

Scientists at SLAC and Utrecht University have identified key problems in the crude oil refining process in an effort to increase the production yield of gasoline.

Their recent experiments at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory studied catalysts that crack apart the long-chain hydrocarbons in crude oil into smaller, more valuable hydrocarbons like gasoline. The efficiency of this refinement process decreases as the catalysts age.

The researchers used X-ray beams at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource to image whole catalyst particles and their internal structure with high resolution – like taking a landscape photograph where you can see a panoramic view and zoom in to see the ants.

To learn more about this research, check out my communications article for SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

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