Press Release

MHPS Signs Agreement with U.S. Firm KBR to Expand Sales of SDA Pitch-fired Power Plants


・ Overseas business development for MHPS' world-first technology to effectively utilize SDA pitch as fuel to generate electricity
・ Providing new solutions to the oil industry together with KBR, the global leader in SDA systems


YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (February 13, 2020) - Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. (MHPS) has signed an agreement with U.S. firm KBR, Inc. (NYSE:KBR) to work together to expand sales of SDA pitch-fired power plants. These plants use as fuel the insoluble matter (SDA pitch) remaining when light oil fractions are recovered from heavy oil fractions using the solvent de-asphalting (SDA) process. (note1)

KBR is the global leader in SDA systems. By working to combine the respective proprietary technologies of each company as a set, MHPS and KBR aim to provide new solutions for the petroleum industry with the world's first method to effectively utilize the SDA pitch, from which energy recovery has been difficult up to now, as a fuel for power generation.

KBR is headquartered in Houston, Texas and provides differentiated professional services and technologies to the energy industry. The company possesses advanced technologies for mixing solvents with heavy oil to separate the heavy oil into light oil and SDA pitch. KBR licenses its SDA process, known as ROSE®, for enhancing the extraction ratio of the light oil fraction, providing the oil industry with SDA systems using this technology. To accelerate the widespread adoption of these systems, KBR desired to work with a company with established downstream processing technologies that allow for the effective utilization of SDA pitch.

The SDA pitch-fired plant boilers developed by MHPS incorporate burners that allow the heated high viscosity SDA pitch to be combusted as liquid without installing an additional system. The boilers utilize high temperature corrosion countermeasures, mainly in the combustion area, to prevent corrosion caused by the high concentrations of sulfur and heavy metals. Further, to reduce the environmental load, the nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur oxide (SOx), and particulate matter in the exhaust gas is removed and recovered utilizing MHPS' leading-edge Air Quality Control System (AQCS) incorporating the flue gas desulfurization (FGD) system, for which MHPS had the top global market share (note2) in 2018.

Demand for light petroleum products has risen in recent years in response to tighter regulations, mainly in Europe, on the use of Heavy Oil C in marine vessels. As a result, refineries have been exploring the use of SDA and other residue cracking systems to convert heavy oil to light oil. However, the effective utilization of SDA pitch, a byproduct with limited use applications, has been an issue.

MHPS, in together with KBR, will support an expanded range of fuels to generate electricity through the widespread use of SDA pitch-fired plants, and through the effective utilization of resources, will contribute to enhancing the economic efficiency of plants, and the advancement of society.

  • 1Solvent de-asphalting (SDA) is the separation and elimination of asphalt (bitumen) from crude oil after distillation (vacuum residual oil), using mixed solvents.
  • 2FGD systems installed in thermal power generation facilities with output of 5MW and higher, based on figures for technology owners (including operators provided with technology) in the McCoy Power Report, a U.S. market research firm offering detailed analysis on the global power generation business.
SDA Pitch-fired Power Plant
SDA Pitch-fired Power Plant