The American Cleaning Institute (ACI)

Research Award Recognizes New Technique to Simplify Surfactant Use in Oilfields

paper excerpt

•    ACI Distinguished Paper Award Presented at AOCS Annual Meeting

Research that could simplify how surfactants are used in recovering crude oil from oilfields and processing them in refineries has been recognized as the best paper published in 2018 in the Journal of Surfactants & Detergents. 

Researchers from the FIRP laboratory at University of the Andes, Merida, Venezuela, authored the paper that was recognized at the 2019 American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS) Annual Meeting, held in St Louis, Missouri. 

The Distinguished Paper Award is an annual honor presented by the American Cleaning Institute® (ACI). 

As senior researcher Jean-Louis Salager explains, there have been many efforts in the past 40 years to improve the production and dehydration of crude oil at the so-called optimum formulation.

“In the past four decades fundamental and practical research has been carried out to considerably lower the interfacial tension between crude and water by injecting surfactant formulations. It was additionally found twenty years ago that the corresponding physicochemical situation also helps to break adverse water-in-crude emulsions in petroleum production and refining,” said Dr. Salager.

“Many articles and conferences have suggested that the emulsion easy breaking was related to the interfacial rheology, in particular by attaining a low dilational elasticity and a low interfacial viscosity. Unfortunately because of lacking equipment for low tension systems at optimum formulation, this suggestion was not experimentally corroborated.

“Thanks to the development in our workshop (CITEC) of a new interfacial rheometer with an oscillating spinning drop, our research shows for the first time how to exactly adjust the surfactant demulsifier formulation for the easy breaking of a water-in-crude emulsion, which can lead to reductions in cost and time. We can also better understand the performance of surfactants in other emulsion applications that would improve the cream and lotion spontaneous effects when applied to the skin in medicines and cosmetics.” 

Besides Dr. Salager, the honored researchers include Ronald Marquez, Ana Forgiarini, Jesus Fernandez, and Dominique Langevin.   
The paper, “New Interfacial Rheology Characteristics Measured using a Spinning-Drop Rheometer at the Optimum Formulation of a Simple Surfactant-Oil-Water System,” was published in the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents, September 2018, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 611-623.

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