Adsorbents for Deep Denitrogenation and Desulfurization of Hydrocarbon Oils

Increasing demands for distillate fuels and decreasing supplies of lighter, easy-to-process crude are forcing refineries to process heavier stocks. The major problems encountered during the processing of these types of stocks are the higher nitrogen and sulfur contents, which on burning, produce nitrogen and sulphur oxides that cause serious environmental hazards.

Hydrogenation and hydro-sulfurization using hydro-treating catalysts is the conventional process being employed in refineries worldwide to remove organic nitrogen/sulfur compounds from liquid fuels. This process normally requires high temperatures, high pressure, and hydrogen consumption.

The current hydro-desulfurization process is effective to remove only the "easy sulfur" compounds but not the refractory sulfur compounds present in the liquid fuels. In addition, although there is no limitation on nitrogen compounds, they compete with sulfur compounds on the active sites of catalysts in the conventional process. Therefore, nitrogen compounds should be removed as much as possible.

The adsorbent material in the present invention can selectively remove both nitrogen and sulfur compounds at room temperature and atmospheric pressure without the use of hydrogen. The technique will allow refineries to produce qualified liquid fuels in a cost effective way.


The novel features of the adsorbent material are:

  • Adsorptive capacity is two times that of the reported capacity of current materials
  • Adsorptive denitrogenation and desulfurization can be performed at room temperature and at atmospheric pressure, and there is no need for the use of hydrogen
  • The adsorbent material has strong selectivity, so the yield of hydrocarbon oil is quite high
  • The material is robust and has excellent regenerationbility.

Stage of Development

A prototype has been developed and successfully tested on a small scale (lab testing).

Intellectual Property

Issued US Patent: US 7,935,248 - Adsorbents for denitrogenation desulfurization of hydrocarbon oils and methods of producing

Canadian Patent Pending

This technology is available for non-exclusive licensing.

Contact Us

Office of Research Services, Industry-Government Services 
University of New Brunswick 
Phone: (506) 453-4674