Ultrasonic Treatment Of Oil-water Emulsion
Stable oil-in-water emulsions are very difficult to separate and are one of the most difficult problems encountered in petroleum production. The viscosity of the emulsion is much higher than that of the separated phase, which is the reason for the high wellbore pressure drop and low reservoir recovery.
This paper investigates the effect of ultrasonic energy on oil-water separation in stable oil-in-water emulsions. It was found that the oil phase concentration, oil phase composition, ultrasonic intensity and temperature were the key factors affecting the emulsion coalescence, which occurred in a relatively short time after ultrasonication.
The results of the study show that ultrasonication at the optimal energy level is superior to some chemical flocculants in improving the liquid-liquid separation performance. The technology can also be applied to post-emulsification separation and field wellbore treatment.
Oil-in-water emulsions are important at all stages of drilling, completion and producing oil wells. Oil-water emulsions exist either in the reservoir itself or as a result of the extraction process. These emulsions greatly increase the cost of transportation and refining, and actually increase wellbore and reservoir problems.
Traditionally, emulsions have been considered an irreversible but indispensable stage in oil production. The most important properties of these emulsions include particle size and distribution, viscosity, density, concentration, oil and carbon content, speed of sound, pH, electrical potential, and surface charge. With the values of these parameters, emulsions can form or break. However, in most cases of petroleum engineering applications, it is necessary to destroy these water-in-oil emulsions.
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