Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Chemical Engineering

Major Professor

Marion G. Hansen

Committee Members

Paul D. Frymier, Robert M. Counce


The work presented in this thesis was focused on developing spectroscopic techniques that can be easily incorporated in an instrument for the rapid characterization of heavy oil fractions. Transmission infrared, attenuated total reflectance infrared, visible, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy were the techniques studied in the course of this project. The key properties of the heavy petroleum fraction that were characterized are as follows:

  • Viscosity parameter: Viscosity at 210 and 100 °F, Viscosity Index
  • Compositional: Relative percentage content of paraffin, naphthene, and aromatic
  • Optical: Color of the heavy oil fraction
The techniques developed in this project would reduce the labor and maintenance involved in the quality control labs in the industry. The time scale of characterization by these techniques is of the order of 4 minutes and hence, the results can be used more effectively for process feedback. This is in stark contrast to the time taking characterization techniques prevalent in the industry. The following are the outcome of the project:
  • The transmission Infrared (IR) is inappropriate for predicting the heavy oil properties
  • Attenuated Total Reflectance (ATR) Infrared (IR) measurement is better for the present purposes
  • Predictions o key viscosity parameters of the heavy oil fraction (Viscosity at 100 and 210°F, and Viscosity Index) based on ATR IR measurements are good
  • ATR IR spectra also correlated well with the compositional properties (percentage paraffin, naphthene,and aromatic) of the heavy oil fractions derived from the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectra of the oil fractions
  • For color characterization, IR spectrum was found inadequate. Visible spectra of the samples was found to be more useful for color characterization
The findings from the project suggest that a combination of ATR IR and visible spectroscopic measurement techniques can successfully characterize the properties of heavy oil fractions. In future, these methods of analysis can be formalized into procedures transferable to a prototype analyzer.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."