Removal of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other contaminants from hydrocarbon fluids

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), compounds that are produced during the combustion of fuels, is one example of contaminants found in automotive lubricants. PAHs can aggregate and form solid deposits. The deposits can be dispersed by the inclusion of oil-soluble additives into the lubricant. However, these additives can have negative effects on the lubricant performance. Unfortunately, current technologies do not remove contaminants; rather, they serve to minimise any damage caused by them. It is proposed that supplementing current technologies with suitable solid-phase, polymeric additives may be of benefit. It is hypothesised that contaminants can be removed from hydrocarbon fluids using polymer-supported chemistries in the solid-phase. Precipitation polymerisation (PP) and non-aqueous dispersion (NAD) polymerisation were investigated to synthesise a library of aromatic-based, crosslinked polymer particles. Hypercrosslinking chemistry was also utilised to impart high specific surface areas into some materials. To test the applicability of removing PAHs from a hydrocarbon fluid, each polymer was contacted with a solution of PAHs in heptane. These investigations proved fruitful, showing that upwards of 90% of certain PAHs could be removed from a heptane solution using crosslinked polymers. The synthesis of polymer resins by suspension polymerisation was investigated, with an aim of producing polymer particles that were of an appropriate size for containment within an engine lubricant system. A library of resins was successfully designed, synthesised and characterised. Gel-type, macroreticular and hypercrosslinked materials were synthesised to give a breadth of specific surface areas bearing varied functionality. Finally, contamination removal from an engine lubricant in situ, using some of the synthesised materials, was undertaken. It was concluded that using solid phase-polymers as contaminant removal devices was effective. Some of the work presented in this thesis forms the basis for the patent application W02017178593A2 (Removal of aromatic compounds from a hydrocarbon fluid).
Date of Award9 Mar 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsEPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
SupervisorPeter Cormack (Supervisor) & John Liggat (Supervisor)

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