(406b) Aging Oil-Water Interfaces with Asphaltene Adsorption: Interface Rheology and Heterogeneity | AIChE

(406b) Aging Oil-Water Interfaces with Asphaltene Adsorption: Interface Rheology and Heterogeneity


Chang, C. C. - Presenter, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California Santa Barbara
Nowbahar, A., University of California Santa Barbara
Mansard, V., University of California, Santa Barbara
Mecca, J., The Dow Chemical Company
Kuo, T. C., Dow Chemical
Squires, T., University of California at Santa Barbara
Kalantar, T., Dow Chemical
Water is often used in the production and processing of oil, but the water and oil must ultimately be separated. Such separations can be very challenging, because various surface-active materials naturally exist in crude oil that stabilize water-oil interfaces. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons called asphaltenes are a broad class of surface-active compounds that adsorb at water-oil interfaces and stabilize such emulsions.
We use ferromagnetic microbuttons as interfacial rheological probes to probe the evolution of oil/water interfaces as asphaltenes adsorb, and the effect of chemical additives like ethylcellulose (EC) on the evolution of the mechanical properties of the interface. Oil/water interfaces progressively stiffen as asphaltenes adsorb; this process, however, can be prevented or reversed with the addition of EC.
To probe the mechanism behind these observations, we visualize the deformation (strain) field of the oil/water interface in response to the stresses imposed by the microbutton. Asphaltene-adsorbed oil/water interfaces show significant mechanical heterogeneity, with pronounced stiff and weak regions. EC affects these heterogeneous regions differently, suggesting various hypotheses for its action on asphaltene-stabilized interfaces.
Our study reveals the rich properties of water/asphaltene/oil interfaces, and highlights new tools to probe mechanically heterogeneous interfaces as they evolve in response to their local chemical environments.