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We developed an in situ synthesis strategy for preparing well-dispersed CuO nanoparticles as aquathermolysis catalyst for viscosity reduction in Shengli heavy oil (China). A Cu(OH) 2 -contained microemulsion was employed as a carrier to disperse the precursor Cu(OH) 2 to the heavy oil phase. Under aquathermolysis condition (240 °C, 2.5 MPa of N 2 ), the Cu(OH) 2 precursors would first be converted in situ to well-crystallized and size-homogeneous CuO nanoparticles naturally, catalyzed by whichdoi:10.1007/s12182-019-0300-3 fatcat:6gfddcllgvg7fmsanx2gxb47xa