On November 22nd, the ICMT was honored to host Dean Peter Kilpatrick (Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, McCloskey Dean of Engineering, University of Notre Dame) who gave the following presentation:
An Overview of Emulsion Stabilization Mechanisms in Petroleum-Water Systems
Emulsions of oil in water, but more typically water in oil, are common in the production, transportation, and refining of petroleum and petroleum products. While the adsorption and molecular reorganization of asphaltenic aggregates at the oil-water interface is one of the most common methods of forming these stable emulsions, there are a number of other physical and chemical processes that can also either stabilize emulsion or combine with asphaltenes to stabilize emulsion films. Among these are the adsorption of organic acids and their soaps in combination with asphaltenes, the adsorption of wax particles, the adsorption of sub-micron sized inorganic particles such as clays, silica, and iron oxides along with asphaltenes, and the formation of liquid crystalline films at the oil-water interface. In this talk, we will review the means of emulsion and thin film stabilization of emulsions in petroleum-water mixtures, with an emphasis on asphaltene adsorption. We also describe how these mechanisms and the resulting emulsion stability varies with time, with pH, with the ionic strength of the water, and with other variables which are potentially manipulable.