Comparison of Nanoparticle and Surfactant Oil/Water-Emulsion Separation Kinetics
- Ilias Gavrielatos (University of Tulsa) | Ramin Dabirian (University of Tulsa) | Ram Mohan (University of Tulsa) | Ovadia Shoham (University of Tulsa)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- October 2019
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 2,182 - 2,194
- 2019.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- nanoparticles, surfactants, oil/water emulsions
- 15 in the last 30 days
- 166 since 2007
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Experimental observations, during oil-production operations, regarding the formation of oil/water emulsions stabilized by nanoparticles and surfactants, are presented. Similarities and differences between the two types of emulsions are discussed on the basis of acquired separation profiles, as well as respective fluid interfacial properties. A state-of-the-art portable dispersion-characterization rig (PDCR) was used to run the experiments, and a surveillance camera was deployed to monitor the emulsion separation kinetics. Commercial-grade mineral oil and distilled water were used as the test fluids. Silica nanoparticles of different wettabilities, as well as surfactants with different hydrophilic-lipophilic balance (HLB) values, were deployed to investigate commonalities/differences between the surfactant- and nanoparticle-stabilized emulsions under ambient-temperature and -pressure conditions.
Separation profiles were analyzed, and similar behaviors between the corresponding surfactant and nanoparticle emulsions were observed for the 25%-water-cut case. For higher water cuts, however, the surfactant-stabilized emulsions were tighter than their nanoparticle counterparts, displaying much lower separation rates. In the most severe cases, the surfactants totally inhibited the oil-creaming process and oil remained trapped in the emulsion for several hours. Multiple emulsions (O/W/O) were observed in certain cases [for hydrophilic nanoparticles and lipophilic surfactants (Span® 80)]. On the basis of the aforementioned experimental observations, the presence of surfactants caused more-severe problems for the oil/water-separation process than did the presence of an equal concentration of nanoparticles. Pendant-drop measurements indicated that the surfactants significantly lowered the interfacial tension (IFT) between the oil and water, whereas the nanoparticles did not.
Finally, a literature model was used to predict separation profiles for the oil/water dispersions and evaluated by comparing the predictions with the acquired experimental data. Current research sets the benchmark for more-thorough investigations aimed at providing guidelines for a more efficient operation of separators that handle surfactant- or nanoparticle-stabilized emulsions and a better understanding of the related phenomena.
|File Size||1 MB||Number of Pages||13|
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