A Novel Experimentation on Demulsifying Crude Oil and Water Emulsions using Ultrasonic Technology Grant uri icon


  • Separating the produced water from crude oil is a problem that continuously afflicts the oil industry. Several methods are implemented for the purpose of separating water/oil emulsions, and the cost of such methods can be very high. Natural settling of the emulsionsâ components could be an option, but usually emulsions take a very long time before they completely separate and in some cases full separation do not happen at all. Therefore, artificially induced separation is a necessity. The most common method of demulsification in the oil industry is the addition of special chemicals known as demulsifiers. These chemicals reduce the interfacial tension between water and oil, which allows for faster separation of the liquid phases in the emulsion. The cost of demulsifiers, however, is high and can mount to millions of dollars each year yet they are widely used in the industry due to the efficient separation they provide. In this project, however, we introduce a novel method of separation through ultrasound irradiation. The desired effect of ultrasonic waves in the separation process comes from the high frequency generated waves which are converted to mechanical vibratory waves (compressions and expansions). These vibrations are translated into negative and positive pressure pulses that eventually create gaseous cavities then implode them internally. Separation of the liquid phases in the emulsions is anticipated as a result of the intense impact that the waves generate An approximate 80% of the worldâ s oil and gas products were produced from crude oil as based product. Therefore, a single denomination of contaminants can create an enormous problem. Crude, as an emulsion in state is prone to miscible and immiscible components, such as gas and water. The serious effect of immiscibility of different liquid in the oil and gas field has been concluded but researchers do not stop enumerating certain strategies to treat such problem. There are available in the market such as Carbon Dioxide demulsification by asphaltene flocculation and precipitation; chemical inhibition with the use of amines, polyhydric alcohols, acid and polymeric; mechanical operations, electrostatics the use of biosurfactants and etc. This is also a key challenge to all sectors of Oil and Gas Industry is to evaluate the active presence of this scenario and its negative effects to the operator and environment. The long term solution such as preservation of the products merely determines an effective and successful operation. This project aims to investigate the effectiveness of ultrasonic waves as a means of demulsifying crude oil in water and water in oil emulsions, commonly encountered while producing oil, compared to other demulsification methods. Also, this project aims to examine the possibility increasing demulsification efficiency by incorporating the effect of ultrasonic waves with chemical demulsifiers at the same time.

date/time interval

  • 2016 - 2017