International news within the industry of mining and metal, May, 21 2018
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Companies aims to extract nickel, vanadium, cobalt from petcoke

Photo: romanm/Wikimedia Commons
Photo: romanm/Wikimedia Commons
Published by
Simon Matthis - 17 Jan 2018

The Canadian companies MGX Minerals and Highbury Energy have partnered to develop a process to extract metals such as nickel, vanadium, and cobalt from petroleum coke (petcoke).

Petcoke is a carbon material by-product of the oil and gas industry that forms during the oil refining process. As refineries have become more efficient at processing extra heavy crude oils (bitumen) over the last two decades, output of petcoke globally has risen significantly. Because petcoke originates from heavier petroleum fractions, its denser impurities such as metals and sulphur compounds are concentrate in it.

The majority of Canadian petcoke output occurs in close proximity to oil sand producing regions, where bitumen is upgraded into synthetic crude oil. Specifically, the Province of Alberta is known to host vast stockpiles of petcoke. According to the Alberta Energy Regulator, petcoke inventories are estimated to have reached 106 million tonnes in 2016(1).

While concentrations of individual metals are low in raw petcoke, Highbury is utilizing its advanced knowledge of the thermochemical gasification process and existing large-scale pilot plant experience to assist MGX in designing a process to generate hydrogen gas and concentrate metals in the form of ash byproduct.  Highbury has completed a Phase I report on potential processes and markets for primary and secondary byproducts. A Phase II study has commenced including analyses of locations, laboratory bench top feedstock results, advanced process design and initial plant design paramete.