In-situ combustion technique for developing fractured low permeable oil shale: Experimental evidence for synthetic oil generation and successful propagation of combustion front

Alexander V. Bolotov, Chengdong Yuan*, Mikhail A. Varfolomeev, Usman H. Taura, Yahya M. Al-Wahaibi, Ilgiz F. Minkhanov, Vadim K. Derevyanko, Saif Al-Bahry, Sanket Joshi, Aidar R. Tazeev, Rail I. Kadyrov, Dmitrii A. Emelianov, Wanfen Pu, Ahmed Naabi, Majid Hasani, Rashid Said Al Busaidi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The idea of in-situ combustion (ISC) for oil shale development and conversion has been proposed recently. Due to the low permeability of oil shale, it usually requires fracturing operation before air injection. However, one of the biggest technical questions is, whether the combustion front can be established and steadily propagate in the low permeable oil shale with fractures. To date, no experimental work has been reported to support this. The target of this work is to provide experimental evidence to answer this question. We have managed to create a novel method for packing and fracturing oil shale core samples in a combustion tube for simulating ISC processes. A systematic analysis for the physical–chemical modeling of ISC process in combustion tube was performed, including temperature profile, pressure drop buildup, composition of produced gases, X-ray computed tomography (CT) and visual inspection, as well as total organic content analysis of oil shale samples before and after combustion, calculation of combustion parameters (air requirement, air/fuel ratio, apparent atomic H/C ratio, oxygen utilization, and O2/fuel ratio), and synthetic oil production. All results indicated the successful establishment and propagation of the combustion front in the fractured, low-permeability oil shale sample. In addition, the permeability of oil shale was increased 2–3 times during combustion, which can be an important factor that supports the stable propagation of the combustion front. Furthermore, the effect of water and catalysts on ISC performance was investigated. It was found that water promotes the cracking reactions of heavy oils to produce CO2 and hydrocarbon gases, and the co-existence of catalysts and water together further improved the performance of the ISC process and synthetic oil production. The findings in this work provide the experimental evidence of the successful establishment and propagation of combustion front in fractured, low-permeability oil shale, and technically proves the feasibility of using ISC technology for in-situ retorting of oil shale to generate synthetic oil for the development and conversion of low permeable oil shale with additional fracturing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127995
JournalFuel
Volume344
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2023

Keywords

  • Catalysts
  • In-situ combustion
  • In-situ retorting technology
  • Oil shale conversion
  • Synthetic oil generation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry

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