Timahdit Oil Shale Bench Test

Oil Winning from Moroccan Oil Shale from the Timahdit Deposit
Test Work Performed in Enefit© Bench Scale Test Unit in Frankfurt, Germany made on behalf of San Leon Energy by Enefit Outotec Technology (EOT) 08-October-2014

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  • Objectives of oil winning tests with Timahdit oil shale
  • Project outline
  • Combustion (ash production) of Timahdit shale
  • Oil winning tests on Enefit Bench Scale Test Unit
  • Summary
  • Pictures

Objectives of Oil Winning Tests using Timahdit Oil Shale

  • Test the suitability of the Enefit solid heat carrier (SHC) retorting technology using a sample of Timahdit oil shale provided by San Leon Energy
  • Collect process data that can be used for a conceptual study and process models
  • Determine the properties of key product streams as a basis for the conceptual study
  • Determine the effect of changes to key parameters such as a) retorting retention time b) retorting temperature and c) oil shale grain size

Project Outline

  • San Leon Energy provided a 12 ton sample of Moroccan oil shale from Timahdit deposit
  • The mined oil shale was crushed to grain sizes suitable for the Enefit solid heat carrier process (< 6mm)
  • Approximately 10 t of oil shale was directly combusted in a circulating fluidized bed (CFB) pilot plant
  • The ash produced by direct combustion was used as heat carrier ash during the oil winning retorting tests in the Enefit

Bench Scale Test Unit

  • One homogenous mixture from T4-X-Y-M1 layers of the Timahdit deposit was prepared for oil winning tests on Enefit Bench Scale Test Unit
  • Enefit Bench Scale Test Unit performance optimisation by performing 12 different pyrolysis test settings at stable and steady operation conditions

Combustion of Timahdit Oil Shale in a Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) Pilot Plant

  • A total of 9700 kg of Timahdit oil shale was combusted during ash production run on 21 and 22 July 2014
  • The average oil shale feed rate to the combustor was 450 kg/h

Key results for direct combustion of Timahdit oil shale:

  • Stable and steady operation of CFB pilot plant with Timahdit oil shale;
  • Low fly ash amounts and stable grain size distribution indicate low attrition rate;
  • The bottom ash was screened and subsequently used as a heat carrier during retorting tests on Enefit Bench Scale Test Plant.

Enefit Bench Scale Test Unit for Oil Winning Tests

  • Enefit Bench Scale Test Unit is a continuously operated plant simulating the industrial solid heat carrier pyrolysis process;

  • Determine the impact of key parameters such as retort temperature and solids retention time on process performance;

  • After heat up the plant is operated several hours at stable and steady conditions for each test settings.

Enefit Bench Scale Test Unit: Basic Flow Diagram

Enefit Bench Scale Test Unit Basic Flow Diagram

Oil Winning Tests with Timahdit Oil Shale

Bench Unit performance was optimized by changing key parameters
a) retort temperature
b) retort solid retention time
c) oil shale grain sizeKey results of oil winning optimization tests:

  • Steady operation of Enefit Bench Unit achieved for all test settings; Oil yields of 85% compared to Assay yield obtained with Timahdit oil shale under stable operation conditions;
  • Produced shale oil shows advantageous flow properties; Viscosity @ 40ºC in the range 4 - 6 mm² / s
  • Process performance robust on Timahdit oil shale: high oil yields obtained in a wide operational window;
  • A desired set of process, plant performance and product analysis data collected feeding into further process modelling and conceptual study.


  • Overall 12 tons of Moroccan oil shale from Timahdit deposit processed at EOT‘s R&D center in Frankfurt, Germany;
  • Steady and stable operation in circulating fluidized bed pilot combustor and oil winning Bench Unit confirms the suitability of the sampled Timahdit oil shale for the Enefit solid heat carrier retorting concept for further development on San Leon Energy’s Timahdit project;
  • High Bench Unit oil yields of 85% achieved compared to Assay oil yields favor the use of Enefit solid heat carrier process on Timahdit oil shale.

Next Steps

  • Further oil yield improvements targeted in oil winning campaign on Enefit Pilot Plant;
  • Enefit Pilot Plant campaign will enable collection of plant data and key product properties for use in permitting, process design and further engineering studies.


Enefit Pilot Plant Retort 
Enefit Pilot Plant Retort 

Oil Shale Storage 
Oil Shale Storage

Enefit Bench Scale Test Unit
Enefit Bench Scale Test Unit



Timahdit shale oilTimahdit shale oil

crushed oil shale
crushed oil shale

spent shale
 spent shale


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