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Solvent deasphalting

We have been designing and constructing solvent deasphalting process (SDA) units since the late 1940s. We provide both propane SDA, usually for lube base oils production, and butane/pentane SDA units for catalytic cracker and hydrocracker feed production, through our alliance with UOP.

The jointly owned UOP/Amec Foster Wheeler SDA process is a unique separation process that, unlike vacuum distillation, separates by molecular type. It produces a low-contaminant deasphalted oil (DAO) rich in paraffinic-type molecules, suitable for catalytic conversion processes, and a contaminant rich pitch stream. The DAO can then be selectively converted to desirable high quality transportation fuels in conventional conversion units such as an FCC unit, usually after hydroprocessing or a hydrocracking unit.

SDA is a technology that can be used to develop a phased approach to investment. We’ve also combined SDA with other leading Amec Foster Wheeler technologies to create a range of options to maximise refinery margins.

Key solvent deasphalting benefits:

  • Low-cost bottom-of-the-barrel upgrading
  • Yields and DAO product properties are controllable
  • Lower operating expenditure with supercritical solvent recovery
  • Asphalt pitch can be used as a fuel component, or gasified to make power, steam and hydrogen

Increasing DAO yield with SDA-RT

SDA-RT is a step-out SDA process that increases DAO yields by 10-20% while still producing DAO acceptable for downstream vacuum gas oil hydrocracking. This major advance is delivered by our novel three-product SDA design, where the intermediate product is routed to a resin-treating section to remove contaminants and reduce the molecular weight of the components. The treated resin is then reprocessed in the SDA extraction section where it is selectively separated.

This expands the attractiveness of SDA technology to a wider range of projects as the increased DAO yield directly translates into a similar increase in transportation fuels.


Amec Foster Wheeler has extensive knowledge and experience in all refining processes and technologies

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