Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Heavy Oil and Residuum Processing

We have extensive experience in processing and analyzing heavy oil and residuum, including characterizing feedstocks and products. SwRI’s scientific and analytical staff has significant knowledge across a full range of both organic and inorganic analytical services for petroleum-based and aqueous samples. These services include standard and nonstandard American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) procedures and custom method development.

SwRI’s facilities are equipped with a variety of processing units available for our clients’ testing needs from laboratory-scale to pilot-plant testing. Existing equipment can be modified to meet clients’ specific needs.


  • Processing of unconventional feedstocks such as heavy oil, shale, biocrude, and residuum (upstream, midstream, and downstream)
  • Circulating fluidized bed with feed rates from <1–200 mL/min
  • Delayed coking with reactor volume up to 2 L and temperature up to 1100°F (~600°C)
  • Visbreaking (up to 2 L capacity)
  • Slurry reactor (up to 2 L capacity)
  • High-temperature flow loop for thermal fouling testing with residuum or high-viscosity fluids
  • Laboratory-scale hydrocracker/hydrotreater: 100-200 mL catalyst capacity fixed-bed reactors
  • Liquid flow rates from 0.1–8 mL/min
  • Hydrogen flow rates from 0.1–5 SCFH
  • Pilot-scale hydrocracker/hydrotreater: 3 fixed-bed reactors: 1.5 L, 3.5 L, and 4.0 L catalyst capacity (may be operated together in series for higher throughput)
  • Liquid flow rates from 0.2–5 gal/hr
  • Hydrogen flow rates from 20–250 SCFH
  • Continuous and batch distillation columns that can fractionate up to 1000°F (~550°C) and 5–55 gal/day 
  • Heavy oil upgrading