In situ burning of crude oils using iron oxide nanoparticles as additives

Majid D. Farahani, Moataz Abdrabou, Hui Zhang, Jesse Zhu, Feiyue Wang, Kenneth Lee, Ying Zheng

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Oil spills in open waters are ongoing threats to the ecosystem, especially marine life. In situ burning (ISB) has been identified as one of the practical responses to these accidents. One of the challenges in applying ISB is the lower efficiency in the burning of heavy oil fractions. This systematic study investigated the feasibility of applying commercially available, inexpensive, and non-toxic iron oxide (Fe2O3) as an additive for ISB of crude oils. Our results showed that Fe2O3 nanoparticles with redox properties generate ionic oxygen species (found in the vicinity of surface defects), which catalyze the combustion reaction. Furthermore, Fe2O3 addition could shorten the gap between the burning of light fractions and the heavy fractions of crude oils (the difference between low-temperature oxidation (LTO) and high-temperature oxidation (HTO) decreased from 88 to 36 degrees upon addition of Fe2O3) and eliminate the endothermic distillation step (involved in the burning process), which in return improved the burning of heavy fractions. This supports the use of Fe2O3 nanoparticles as an effective additive to enhance ISB, especially of light crude oils. This additive resulted in an increase in the burning efficiency of light crude oil by two folds. This study shares the first application of nanoparticles in ISB, revealing its unleashed potential for further developments by the scientific community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125568
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Additive
  • Catalyst
  • Combustion
  • Crude oil
  • In situ burning
  • Iron oxide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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