Kinetic study of crude oil-to-chemicals via steam-enhanced catalytic cracking in a fixed-bed reactor

Qi Xu*, Aaron C. Akah, Mansour AlHerz, Abdullah Aitani*, Ziyauddin S. Qureshi, M. Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Nabeel Abo-Ghander

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study presents new experimental results on the direct conversion of crude oil to chemicals via steam-enhanced catalytic cracking. We have organized the experimental results with a kinetics model using crude oil and steam co-feed in a fixed-bed flow reactor at reaction temperatures of 625, 650, and 675°C over the Ce-Fe/ZSM-5 catalyst. The model let us find optimum conditions for crude oil conversion, and the order of the steam cracking reaction was 2.0 for heavy oil fractions and 1.0 for light oil fractions. The estimated activation energies for the steam cracking reactions ranged between 20 and 200 kJ/mol. Interestingly, the results from kinetic modelling helped in identifying a maximum yield of light olefins at an optimized residence time in the reactor at each temperature level. An equal propylene and ethylene yield was observed between 650 and 670°C, indicating a transition from dominating catalytic cracking at a lower temperature to a dominating thermal cracking at a higher temperature. The results illustrate that steam-enhanced catalytic cracking can be utilized to effectively convert crude oil into basic chemicals (52.1% C2-C4 light olefins and naphtha) at a moderate severity (650°C) as compared to the conventional high-temperature steam cracking process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4042-4053
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Chemical Engineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering.


  • catalytic cracking
  • crude oil
  • kinetics
  • olefins
  • steam cracking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering


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