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Orimulsion is a protected brand name of a fuel based on bitumen .

The brand name is a combination of the name of the area in which the bitumen occurs, the Orinoco basin in Venezuela and the word emulsion . In addition to the Canadian oil and tar sands, Orimulsion is known as the fourth fossil fuel . Orimulsion was developed in a cooperation between INTEVEP and British Petroleum as a fuel for heavy oil engines and is used worldwide in ship propulsion systems and power plants. For economic reasons, production was stopped on December 31, 2006 and has not yet been restarted.

Occurrence, manufacture and properties

The bitumen comes from a natural occurrence at a depth of around 1000 m under the Orinoco Basin. The reserves are estimated at around 190 billion m³, which corresponded to about 72.19% of the world's known oil reserves in 2014 .

In its original state, the bitumen has a very high viscosity and high specific weight (8 to 10 degrees API ), which makes it very difficult to break down and use. Therefore, an emulsion of approx. 70% bitumen, approx. 30% water and max. 1% additives are generated, making the promotion, transport and use of the Orimulsion much easier.

In its raw state, the bitumen has a calorific value of around 40 MJ / kg, comparable to heating oil. As an orimulsion, the calorific value is reduced to 28 MJ / kg, comparable to hard coal.

Economic aspect

High hopes were placed on Orimulsion, as it can be used as an alternative fuel for coal or diesel oil and thus promised greater independence from classic oil-producing countries. So tried z. B. the Schwaben energy supply in 1993 in the Marbach oil power station near Stuttgart in a four million mark (approx. Two million €) trial of the handling and emissions of Orimulsion. With a corresponding adaptation of the flue gas cleaning , the system , which was previously used as a peak load power plant, should be usable in regular operation.

Orimulsion is profitable from a crude oil price of twenty US dollars. In order not to violate the production quotas of the OPEC , Orimulsion was declared by PdVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela SA) as Non Oil Hydrocarbon , so it could be produced in addition to crude oil and marketed as a competitor product to steam coal. In 2003, Orimulsion was redefined by the Venezuelan Hydrocarbon Act as Extra Heavy Oil and the legal basis for marketing was withdrawn. That is why production was stopped on December 31, 2006, despite international contracts and lawsuits from customers who had to convert their power plants. Another reason for the discontinuation of production is the investment requirement and the limited possibilities of PdVSA. Venezuela regards Orimulsion as a future reserve and is not releasing the patents.

Technical aspect

In terms of its properties, Orimulsion is comparable to heavy heating oil and can therefore be handled with comparable, known effort.

Orimulsion, however, cannot be produced and processed in existing refineries using the known technology, and its use in ship propulsion systems and power stations also requires special technology. The high water content and the abrasive properties of the bitumen pose a particular challenge.

On the other hand, the high water content has a positive effect on combustion and exhaust gases. A separate water injection is not required with Orimulsion.

Ecological aspect

Despite its economic merits, Orimulsion is highly controversial because of its ecological disadvantages.

The combustion of Orimulsion creates a particularly high level of pollution in the atmosphere, primarily through sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) and trioxide (SO 3 ).

The bitumen component of Orimulsion contains heavy metals and chemicals that concentrate in the ash when burned and have mutagenic properties. Investigations with wheat, rye and vetch showed that a proportion of 0.005% ash from burning orimulsion still has growth-promoting effects. A proportion of 0.05%, on the other hand, blocks growth, with a proportion of 0.5% there is no longer any germinability. Corresponding long-term effects in the vicinity of an Orimulsion power plant are to be feared. The discontinuation of production by Orimulsion made further investigations unnecessary.

Orimulsion has no clear hydrophobic properties. Due to the additives that stabilize the emulsion, orimulsion leaking into water penetrates to a depth of approx. Three meters and disperses instead of accumulating and clumping on the surface. This would make a tanker accident with Orimulsion more serious than one with conventional crude oil.

The ecological aspects and the pressure from environmentalists have led BP to abandon the Orimulsion application prematurely and to convert the power plants.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Oil Sands and Orimulsion Ed 2 2007 - Market Research Report ( Memento of February 13, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  2. An Estimate of Recoverable Heavy Oil Resources of the Orinoco Oil Belt, Venezuela ( English , PDF; 916 kB) www.usgs.gov. January 11, 2010. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  3. Michael Fox: Venezuela Increases Taxes on Oil Companies in Orinoco Oil Belt ( English ) venezuelanalysis.com. May 9, 2006. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  4. Orimulsion ( Memento of March 13, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Handbook of Wind Energy Part 5: Environment and Energy Sources . Association of the Danish Wind Power Industry. May 12, 2003. Archived from the original on March 12, 2016. Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved October 12, 2008.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / ifs.mv.fh-duesseldorf.de
  6. Successful test with "Orimulsion" . Newspaper for communal economy, 6/93 cited at www.udo-leuschner.de. June 2003. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  7. Treasure in the sand . The time . September 21, 1990. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  8. bfai: Countries and Markets: Venezuela: Energy Industry Venezuela 2006 (PDF; 83 kB) Federal Agency for Foreign Trade (bfai). August 7, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  9. CA Miller, RK Srivastava: The combustion of Orimulsion and its generation of air pollutants ( English ) In: Progress in Energy and Combustion Science , Volume 26, Number 2, April 2000 . Elsevier. Pp. 131-160. April 2000. Archived from the original on December 4, 2015. Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved October 12, 2008. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.ingentaconnect.com
  10. Mike Lushington: Orimulsion: Environmentalist's Concerns ( English ) www.elements.nb.ca. October 2000. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  11. Colin J. Campbell : Oil Change !: The end of the petroleum age and the course for the future . Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag, 2002, ISBN 3-423-24321-X , p. 93 . Quoted in: Energy - Peak Oil - Rescue through unconventional oil? . derrotefaden.de.ohost.de. March 12, 2006. Archived from the original on August 14, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2008.