Solvent Deasphalting

Solvent deasphalting pilot plant services (unit P73).

Process Description:
Solvent deasphalting is a refinery process for extracting asphaltenes and resins from heavy vacuum gas oil, atmospheric residue, vacuum residue, or other petroleum based materials to produce valuable deasphalted oil that otherwise cannot be recovered from the residue by other refinery processes.  The deasphalted oil (DAO) can be used to make lubricants or can instead be used as feed to the fluid catalytic cracker, hydrocracker, or other refinery units.

The process consists of contacting the feedstock with a solvent in a counter-current extractor at temperatures and pressures to precipitate the asphaltene fractions which are not soluble in the solvent. Solvent selection and operating conditions are dictated by the desired product yields and qualities.

Unit Description:
Unit P73 is a counter-current solvent deasphalting pilot plant that consists of a 8.5 m (28 ft) tall 304SS extractor column containing 161 alternating half-moon baffles spaced 5 cm (2 in) apart.  The unit can co-process C3, C4, or C5 solvents (or blends thereof) and includes integrated asphalt and DAO and flash chambers to allow for the solvent to be recovered and recycled.

The core design specifications for P73 are as follows:

Feed Rate - Minimum

Feed Rate - Maximum

Extractor Temperature - Maximum

Extractor Pressure - Maximum

1.9 L/h

(0.5 gal/h)

5.7 L/h

(1.5 gal/h)



45 bar

(650 psig)

Additional attributes to note:

  • Feed and product line tracing (electrical) heating up to 260 C (500 F).
  • Has the ability to pre-dilute the feed stream with solvent upstream of the extractor inlet.
  • Has three optional feed injection ports to the extraction tower to allow for adjusting the feedstock/solvent contact surface area.
  • Products are typically drained every two hours into five gallon pails for material balance purposes.

Analytical Support:

Analytical types and frequency are performed on an as needed basis to ensure that customers are getting only the data they need when they need it. Onsite and external analytical support options are available for characterization and unit control purposes.

In-house analytical support for unit control and external analytical support via the Intertek network of laboratories is as follows:


  • D287 Density
  • D6352 GC Distillation
  • D3279 Heptane insolubles
  • D4629 Nitrogen
  • D5453 Sulfur
  • D5950 Pour point
  • D445 Kinematic viscosity

Intertek network:

  • D2170 Viscosity
  • D5 Penetration
  • D6560 Asphaltenes
  • D4294 Sulfur
  • D189 Conradson carbon
  • D4530 MCRT
  • IP 501 Metals (Ni/V)
  • D36 Softening point
  • D7169 GC Distillation

Common Project Types:
This unit has been used for both the generation of process data and also the production of samples (ranging from several liters to multiple drums) which can include:

  • Producing a small sample volume for product characterization to understand the impacts of processing an opportunity stream.
  • Producing a large sample volume for use in marketing or subsequent pilot plant test evaluations.
  • Generating feedstock specific process data, specifically product quality and yields, as part of a performance guarantee associated with the design of a commercial unit.

Client Testimonials:
Saudi Aramco Arab Light Crude Oil Hydroprocessing and Solvent Deasphalting Evaluation:

In the fall of 2013, Saudi Aramco contracted with Intertek Pilot Plant Services to perform hydrotreating and solvent deasphalting of whole Arabian Light crude oil.  For the hydroprocessing, Intertek Pilot Plant Services’ Isothermal Precision Pilot Plant P87 with two 0.434 L reactors in series was employed.  Various condition sets were targeted throughout the run to determine the optimal conditions for effective hydrodesulfurization of the Arabian Light crude.  For the solvent deasphalting, Intertek Pilot Plant Services’ Light Hydrocarbon Solvent Deasphalting Pilot Plant P73 was employed.  Saudi Aramco wished to evaluate the feasibility of rejecting the asphaltenes from the whole crude via deasphalting prior to distillation, hydroprocessing, etc.  Both the hydrotreating and solvent deasphalting evaluations were successful in generating the important data required by Saudi Aramco, and Saudi Aramco was very pleased with the support Intertek Pilot Plant Services provided for their research and development needs.


Need help or have a question? +1 800 967 5352

Need help or have a question?

+1 800 967 5352
+44 1372 370900
+55 11 2842 0444
+86 400 886 9926
+31 88 126 8888
+49 711 27311 152
+971 4 317 8777