Low-Temperature Pack Aluminization Process on Pipeline Steel to Inhibit Asphaltene Deposition

Pralav P. Shetty, Soheil Daryadel, Barnaby T. Haire, Zoë R. Tucker, Tiffany Wu, Velu Subramani, John J. Morrison, Peter Quayle, Stephen Yeates, Paul V. Braun, Jessica A. Krogstad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Asphaltene deposition in petroleum refineries is known to be problematic as it reduces efficiency and may lead to structural failure or production downtime. Though several successful approaches have been utilized to limit deposition through the addition of dispersants and inhibitors to petroleum, these methods require constant intervention and are often expensive. In this study, we demonstrate an innovative technique to engineer the surface chemistry of pipeline steels to inhibit asphaltene deposition. Pack aluminization, a standard industrial-scale chemical vapor deposition process, is employed at a low temperature of 600 °C to aluminize API 5L X65 high strength pipe steel substrates. The results showed deposit-free steel surfaces after high-pressure and high-temperature fouling experiments. The improvement is attributed to the formation of an aluminide intermetallic phase of Fe2Al5, which changes the native oxide chemistry to favor alumina over hematite. The continuous passivating oxide scale, acting as a protective barrier, mitigates asphaltene deposition and sulfidic corrosion. Because this process is based on alloying the surface of the steel and is not a coating with a weakly adhered interface, it is not prone to delamination, and it can be re-formed when damaged within the aluminized region. The combination of low-cost processing and improved antifouling characteristics makes surface chemistry modification of steel a promising preventative approach against asphaltene deposition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47596-47605
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 18 2019


  • asphaltene
  • fouling
  • pack aluminization
  • pipeline steels
  • surface modification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science


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