Encapsulation of Crude Oil Emulsions

Abstract : The formation of crude oil emulsions is unavoidable during crude oil production. The characterisation of such emulsions on-site is an important challenge in order to identify problems that can occur in separation processes. On-line characterisation by classical techniques (light diffusion, acoustic attenuation) is particularly difficult because of the opacity, high volume fraction of dispersed phase and presence of gas bubbles. Consequently, one of the best way to measure on-site droplets size in crude oil emulsions is to sample a representative part of the flow and to lock the system, in order to avoid any coalescence of the droplets before analysis in the laboratory. Prevention of coalescence can be easily performed by encapsulation of the droplets by formation of a polymer film at the oil/water interface. Within this interfacial stabilisation, the emulsion droplets size distribution can be determined in the laboratory by classical techniques such as optical microscopy and image analysis. This technique was applied on-site to characterise actual crude oil emulsions but also in the laboratory. The additives were selected according to the nature of the organic phase (crude oil). Concentrations were optimised in order to obtain a resistant film of polymer, even for very high volume fractions of dispersed phase.
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Ch. Noïk, H. Malot, Ch. Dalmazzone, A. Mouret. Encapsulation of Crude Oil Emulsions. Oil & Gas Science and Technology - Revue d'IFP Energies nouvelles, Institut Français du Pétrole, 2004, 59 (5), pp.535-546. ⟨10.2516/ogst:2004038⟩. ⟨hal-02017320⟩

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