The Case for Controlling Sulfur Impurities

September 16, 2021


Houston, TX – September 16, 2021

Fossil fuels, formed from organic material over the course of millions of years, are the most widely used energy sources in the world. As an overall share of energy consumption, oil sits on top of the spectrum at 33% of all energy consumption. Natural gas ranks third at 24%. In all, fossil fuels represent 82% of the world’s energy needs.

Acidic in nature, sulfur is one of the most common and undesirable impurities present in crude oil. Sulfur compounds tend to deactivate some catalysts used in refining process units and can cause corrosion problems in pipeline, pumping, and refining equipment. Sulfur levels in automotive fuels also impairs the effectiveness of emission control systems which can lead to sulfur oxide gases in the air. When those gases react with water in the atmosphere, they form sulfates and acid rain that causes damage to buildings, destroys automotive paint finishes, acidifies the soil, and ultimately leads to loss of forests and various other ecosystems. Sulfur emissions also cause respiratory illnesses, aggravate heart disease, triggers asthma, and contribute to the formation of atmospheric particulates.

The presence of sulfur is a critical issue that requires both conventional hydrodesulfurization and alternative desulfurization methods such as selective adsorption, oxidation / extraction (oxidative desulfurization), etc. for removing refractory sulfur compounds from petroleum products. Research laboratories and refineries are spending large amounts of money to find a viable and feasible solution for reducing sulfur to a concentration of less than 10 milligrams a liter (mg/l).

Learn more on finding a viable and feasible solution for reducing sulfur in this Hydrocarbon Engineering article.

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