Industry
Fact-checked

At AboutMechanics, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Is a De-Asphalter?

A de-asphalter is a specialized device used in petroleum refining to separate heavier, more complex molecules like asphalt from lighter, valuable oils. This process enhances the quality of the final products. By selectively removing the densest components, refineries can maximize their output of fuels and lubricants. Curious about how this impacts everyday products? Let's delve deeper into the world of refining.
B. Turner
B. Turner

A de-asphalter is a piece of heavy-duty industrial equipment found in many oil refineries and fuel processing facilities. These machines are used in oil distilling, which is the process of extracting usable products from a barrel of crude oil. A standard de-asphalter is used to manufacture asphalt, which is widely used to pave roads and other surfaces throughout the world. These machines also produce a number of additional by-products that can be used as fuel sources or lubricants.

To understand how a de-asphalter works, it's helpful to understand how the oil distillation process works. Refineries start by subjecting the entire barrel of crude oil to a process known as vacuum distillation. This divides the oil into many products, each with varying levels of purity and contaminants. The more purified products of distillation are sent forward for further refining, where they are made into gasoline and liquid propane. Some of the more contaminated products, such as the heavy sludge found on the bottle of the barrel, are transported to the de-asphalter for additional processing.

A de-asphalter is used in the processing of crude oil.
A de-asphalter is used in the processing of crude oil.

The majority of de-asphalter systems throughout the world rely on a solvent-based de-asphalting process. These machines consist of large metal drums filled with a hydrocarbon solvent like propane or butane. As the sludge by-products of vacuum distillation are deposited in these drums, many of the natural gases within the sludge dissolve. The solid asphaltenes retain their solid state, and can be extracted from the machine and used to produce asphalt. The propane or butane solvents remain in the drum for reuse.

De-asphalters are found in many oil refineries.
De-asphalters are found in many oil refineries.

After being removed from the de-asphalter, the asphaltenes are subject to oxidation, which gives them the properties needed for use in paving. A certain amount of waste sludge at the bottom of the de-asphalter cannot be processed any further, and must be sent to an industrial landfill for disposal. Resinous by-products produced during oxidation are separated from the asphalt to become lubricant or grease used for machinery and vehicles.

Gasoline, kerosene and petroleum are refined from crude oil in refineries.
Gasoline, kerosene and petroleum are refined from crude oil in refineries.

The dissolved gases and some remaining resins within the de-asphalter are also collected and processed even further. These gases and resins are subject to a process known as hydrocracking, which helps to remove any remaining impurities and transforms these materials into de-asphalted oil (DAO). De-asphalted oil serves as a common fuel or lamp oil, and is a slightly less refined version of kerosene. The high number of impurities remaining in DAO cause it to burn fairly dirty, and have led many to seek out cleaner-burning fuels.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • A de-asphalter is used in the processing of crude oil.
      By: jamenpercy
      A de-asphalter is used in the processing of crude oil.
    • De-asphalters are found in many oil refineries.
      By: TTstudio
      De-asphalters are found in many oil refineries.
    • Gasoline, kerosene and petroleum are refined from crude oil in refineries.
      By: Giuseppe Porzani
      Gasoline, kerosene and petroleum are refined from crude oil in refineries.