Corrosion Evaluation and Material Selection for Supercritical Water Reactor Used for Heavy Oil Upgradation

  • M. Faizan KhanEmail author
  • Akeem Yusuf Adesina
  • Sikandar Khan
  • Anwar Ul-Hamid
  • Luai M. Al-Hems


Supercritical water is uniquely a green medium for diverse applications because of its changing nature from polar to non-polar. Owing to this property, it is being considered for heavy oil upgradation since it dissolves both organics (oil) and hydrogen while inorganics behave conversely. However, because of the high pressure and temperature (22.1 MPa, 374 °C), corrosive environment (chlorides, sulfides and salt deposition) and stresses involved, there are serious concerns encountered while utilizing supercritical water in reactors. These include change in the component-material microstructure due to hydrogen ingress, sulfide stress corrosion cracking and salt deposition leading to pitting and de-alloying. Various alloys such as ferritic–martensitic steels, austenitic stainless steels, Ti-, Ni- and Zr-based alloys have been used, while new alloys and materials are continuously being investigated to considerably help abate these problems and ultimately improve the life of reactors. Despite significant past efforts in material development, reactors still suffer from these problems and challenges. This review assesses materials selection, the current progress in material development as well as their potentials in ameliorating reactors resistance to oxidation, pitting, embrittlement, etc. This study aims to improve understanding of material selection for supercritical water reactors based on the corrosive environment of the reactor and hence help engineers to make insightful decisions in selecting material for the specific corrosive environment.

Graphical Abstract

Schematic illustration of materials susceptibility in supercritical water reactor


Supercritical water Heavy oil upgrading Corrosion Oxidation Reduction Reactors Alloys Materials 



Special thanks to Mechanical Engineering Department, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, 31261, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and the Center of Research Excellence in Corrosion (CoRE-C), Research Institute, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, 31261, Saudi Arabia.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringKing Fahd University of Petroleum and MineralsDhahranKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  2. 2.Center of Research Excellence in CorrosionKing Fahd University of Petroleum and MineralsDhahranKingdom of Saudi Arabia
  3. 3.Center for Engineering ResearchKing Fahd University of Petroleum and MineralsDhahranKingdom of Saudi Arabia

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