Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Institutional links

Twitter LinkedIn YouTube Facebook

Chairholder Profile

Cedric L. Briens

Cedric L. Briens

Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Western University

Chair title

NSERC/Syncrude/ExxonMobil Industrial Research Chair in Fluid Coking Technologies

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Industrial Research Chairholder since 2013


Canada has extensive reserves of heavy oils, including bitumen extracted from oil sands. Worldwide, technically recoverable heavy oil reserves are now larger than conventional oil reserves. In addition, heavy oils constitute a significant component of many conventional types of crude. Heavy oils must be upgraded to cleaner and more valuable products such as gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel and petrochemical feedstocks.

One of the most advanced upgrading processes is Fluid CokingTM. Heavy oil is sprayed into a fluidized bed of hot coke particles, where its long hydrocarbon chains are thermally cracked into more valuable fragments. These form a synthetic crude oil that can then be processed in regular refineries. ExxonMobil uses Fluid Coking in many of its refineries. Fluid Cokers are used by Imperial Oil in its Sarnia refinery and by Syncrude Canada in its Fort McMurray upgrading plant. Between 15 and 20 per cent of Canada's heavy oil production is processed in Fluid Cokers.

The vision that drives the chair research program – a vision shared by Syncrude Canada and ExxonMobil – is to improve Fluid Cokers through a better understanding of the Fluid Coking process and the development of new technologies. The practical objectives are to increase the operability and liquid yields of Fluid Cokers and to reduce the environmental footprint of heavy oil upgrading.

The chairholder is Dr. Cedric Briens, Director, Research and Development, of the Institute for Chemical and Fuels from Alternative Resources (ICFAR), which he founded with Dr. Franco Berruti and other colleagues at Western University. He is also the Scientific Director of the Lignoworks network. Cedric has over 25 years of experience in both academia and industry. His areas of expertise are fluidization and particulate operations, which he has applied to the development of new reactor technology for the conversion of biomass and heavy oils into valuable products, as one example. Past projects have involved the monitoring of industrial operations such as high- and low-pressure fluidized beds, pneumatic transport lines and solids dryers, as well as the study of solids attrition in fluidized beds, the remediation of electrostatic effects, and the optimization of solids mixers, cyclone separators and filters.


  • Syncrude Canada Ltd.
  • ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company

Contact information

Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering
Western University
1151 Richmond Street, Suite 3
London, Ontario
N6A 5B9

Tel.: 519-661-2111, ext. 88865

This link will take you to another Web site