Destabilisation of Water-in-Crude Oil Emulsions by Silicone Copolymer Demulsifiers

Abstract : Asphaltene aggregates are known to form viscoelastic film preventing the coalescence of droplets in water-in-oil emulsions formed during crude oil exploitation. Since phase separation is necessary for oil refining process, demulsifying additives are used. It was found that formulations based on polysiloxane copolymers promote separation of water from crude oil even at very low concentration (few tens of ppm). Two alternative scenarios of emulsion destabilisation can be envisaged: (i) dissolution of asphaltene aggregates or (ii) displacement of the asphaltene network by adsorption of the more surface active copolymer into void sites at the oil/water interface. In order to reveal the mechanism of destabilisation, interactions between asphaltene aggregates and copolymer were explored. For that purpose various techniques have been employed: small angle X-ray scattering allowing the determination of the influence of copolymer on the size of asphaltene aggregate; capacity of copolymer to displace asphaltene aggregates initially adsorbed on silica particles (which simulate water droplets); Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) was used to observe the influence of copolymer on the interfacial structure of asphaltene films spread on water surface.
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D. Daniel-David, A. Le Follotec, I. Pezron, C. Dalmazzone, C. Noïk, et al.. Destabilisation of Water-in-Crude Oil Emulsions by Silicone Copolymer Demulsifiers. Oil & Gas Science and Technology - Revue d'IFP Energies nouvelles, Institut Français du Pétrole, 2008, 63 (1), pp.165-173. ⟨10.2516/ogst:2008002⟩. ⟨hal-02001990⟩

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