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Present knowledge of the skeletal structure of the asphaltene and resin portions of the heavy oil fraction of petroleum is reviewed. This fraction consists primarily of graphite-like clusters of condensed aromatic rings joined together by alkyl groups. Infrared studies show condensed naphthalenic ring systems are also present. The naphthalenic ring systems are usually not fused to the aromatic clusters. Within the aromatic clusters are sites of free radicals and sites where a nickel or vanadium ion can be coordinated with heteroatoms present in the aromatic rings. Detailed information about aromaticity, intermolecular distances, and the methods of analysis used for structural determinations are presented.
asphaltic crudes, heavy oil (crudes), asphaltenes, molecular structure, identification, free radicals, aromaticity
Erdman, J. Gordon
Senior fellow, petroleum fellowship, Mellon Inst.Phillips Petroleum Co., PittsburghBartlesville, Pa.Okla.