Selective adsorption for removal of nitrogen compounds from liquid hydrocarbon streams over carbon- and alumina-based adsorbents

Masoud Almarri, Xiaoliang Ma, Chunshan Song

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In order to explore the adsorptive denitrogenation of liquid hydrocarbon streams for producing ultraclean fuels, the adsorption performance of seven representative activated carbon samples and three activated alumina samples was evaluated in a batch adsorption system and a fixed-bed flow adsorption system for removing quinoline and indole from a model diesel fuel in the coexistence of sulfur compounds and aromatics. Different adsorbents show quite different selectivity toward basic and nonbasic nitrogen compounds (quinoline and indole) and sulfur compounds (dibenzothiophene and 4,6-dimethyldibenzothiophene). The activated carbons generally show higher capacity than activated alumina samples for removing the nitrogen compounds. The adsorption capacity and selectivity of the activated carbons for nitrogen compounds were further correlated with their textural properties and oxygen content. It was found that (1) the microporous surface area and micropore volume are not a key factor for removal of the nitrogen compounds in the tested activated carbons; (2) the oxygen functionality of the activated carbons may play a more important role in determining the adsorption capacity for the nitrogen compounds since the adsorption capacity for nitrogen compounds increases with increase in the oxygen concentration of the activated carbons; and (3) the type of the oxygen-functional groups may be crucial in determining their selectivity for various nitrogen or sulfur compounds. In addition, regeneration of the saturated adsorbents was conducted by the toluene washing followed by the heating to remove the remained toluene. The results show that the spent activated carbons can be regenerated to completely recover the adsorption capacity. The high capacity and selectivity of carbon-based adsorbents for the nitrogen compounds, along with their good regenerability, indicate that the activated carbons may be promising adsorbents for deep denitrogenation of liquid hydrocarbon streams.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)951-960
Number of pages10
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 21 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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