Fuels & Energy Development

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Heavy fuel upgrading

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Process simulation

Using practical and dynamic approaches to advance fuels technology, the staff at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) works with clients on every step of process development - from lab-scale to commercial design. With diverse backgrounds in biofuels, gas-to-fuels, petroleum processing, and electrochemical processes, our engineers and scientists strive to improve the use of fossil fuels through supporting petroleum and chemical process development for improving costs, efficiency, environmental impacts, and technology advancement.

The Fuels and Energy Development section has expertise in the operation of pilot plant-scale fluidized bed reactors, characterization of bio- and residuum-derived fuel products, process simulations, scale-up cost estimates, mass, material, and energy balances, troubleshooting and optimization of processes, equipment sizing, and reduction of environmental impacts from fuel extraction and energy production.

Projects in this field have included practical process simulations and Class V and IV cost estimates, novel electrochemistry process development, bitumen/residuum upgrading, asphaltene and residuum characterization and fouling behavior, hydroprocessing and evaluation of bio-sourced liquids and solids, operation standardization, and carbon capture and sequestration.

Eloy Flores III, Manager

Fuels & Energy Development Technical Strengths

  • Unit Operations, Lab – Pilot Scale
    • Fludized Catalytic Cracker (FCC)
    • Hydrotreating/hydrocracking
      • Biofeedstocks
      • Petroleum feedstocks
    • Circulating Fluidized Bed
    • Catalytic Reforming
    • Alkylation
      • Solid and liquid catalysts
    • Delayed coking
    • Slurry cracking
    • Distillation, continuous
    • Distillation, batch
    • Visbreaking
    • Absorption/Adsorption (Gas/Liquid/Solid Scavenging)
    • Fischer Tropsch
    • CSTR and batch reactors
  • Types of testing
    • Catalyst performance testing (activity, selectivity, longevity)
    • High pressure/high temperature reactors and vessels
    • Chemical process (C1 to C6 chemistry)
      • Conversion of natural gas to salable products
      • Selective hydrogenation of chemicals
    • Micro-activity testing
    • High-temperature tube and process fouling
    • Asphaltene and blending compatibility analysis
  • Process Design/Development
    • Process Simulation
    • Techno Economic Analyses
    • Proof of concept Lab Testing
    • Lab generation of Thermodynamic data
    • Determination of Kinetics
    • Fouling and fundamental thermodynamic modeling
  • Pilot Plant Training, Design, Build, Operations, Safety Hazop
    • Onsite and Offsite services available
    • Safety Review
    • PSM
    • Procedure Development (ISO 9001)
    • Onsite – Fabrication Facilities
    • Buildup
    • Design

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Benefiting government, industry and the public through innovative science and technology
Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 9 technical divisions.