Alteration of petroleum coke morphology by addition of biomass

Prof Ying Zheng's research focuses on the development of catalytic systems for energy efficiency of industrial processes and for biomass energy utilisation.

This project concerns optimisation of petroleum coke. Delayed coking is a refinery unit operation that converts the bottom of the barrel into higher-value distillates. The major advantages are the relatively low investment cost versus the gain in value, the simplicity of the technology, and the combined emission control features.

Coking, as the name implies, produces petroleum coke - a coal-like material. Different types of coke can be generated in a coking drum. Shot coke, in the form of hard and round balls, is normally formed. Shot coke slows down the rate at which the coke is quenched and, therefore, its formation needs to be avoided.

Lignin, a byproduct of paper mills, can decompose under coking operating conditions to form molecular fragments that can inhibit and/or slow free radical reactions, such as free radical reactions occurring during the coking process. It is believed that shot coke tends to form when asphaltene moieties in the oil react with one another rapidly.

Slowing down the fast reaction between the asphaltene moieties can prevent shot coke formation and can result in sponge coke, which is a desirable form of coke. Additional benefits include increased liquid yield, reduced coke formation, and lighter liquid products.

The project will identify optimal operating conditions for delayed coking in a refinery, evaluate the quality of liquid products, and correlate the coke formation and morphology with the amount and type of lignin in addition.

Principal Supervisor: 


Minimum entry qualification - an Honours degree at 2:1 or above (or International equivalent) in a relevant science or engineering discipline, possibly supported by an MSc Degree. Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Only self-funded applicants can be considered. 

Further information and funding options.

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