Lookup NU author(s): Alex Svalova,
Dr Nicholas Parker,
Dr Geoffrey Abbott
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).
Asphaltenes constitute the heaviest, most polar and aromatic fraction of petroleum crucial to the formation of highlystable water-in-crude oil emulsions. The latter occur during crude oil production as well as spills and cause difficulties to efficient remediation practice. It is thought that in nanoaggregate form, asphaltenes create elastic layers around water droplets enhancing stability of the emulsion matrix. Ultrasonic characterisation is a high-resolution non-invasive tool in colloidal analysis shown to successfully identify asphaltene nanoaggregation in toluene. The high sensitivity of acoustic velocity to molecular rearrangements and ease in implementation renders it an attractive method to study asphaltene phase properties. Currently, aggregation is thought to correspond to an intersection of two concentration-ultrasonic velocity regressions. Our measurements indicate a variation in the proximity of nanoaggregation which is not accounted for by present models. We attribute this uncertainty to physico-chemical heterogeneity of the asphaltene fraction driven by variation in molecular size and propose a critical nanoaggregation region. We treated asphaltenes from North and South American crude oils with ruthenium ion catalysed oxidation to characterise their n-alkyl appendages attached to aromatic cores. Principal component analysis was performed to investigate the coupling between asphaltene structures and velocity measurements and their impact on aggregation.
Author(s): Svalova A, Parker NG, Povey MJW, Abbott GD
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Scientific Reports
Online publication date: 23/11/2017
Acceptance date: 30/10/2017
ISSN (print): 2045-2322
ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
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