Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 14

Search results for: asphaltenes

14 Calculating Asphaltenes Precipitation Onset Pressure by Using Cardanol as Precipitation Inhibitor: A Strategy to Increment the Oil Well Production

Authors: Camilo A. Guerrero-Martin, Erik Montes Paez, Marcia C. K. Oliveira, Jonathan Campos, Elizabete F. Lucas


Asphaltenes precipitation is considered as a formation damage problem, which can reduce the oil recovery factor. It fouls piping and surface installations, as well as cause serious flow assurance complications and decline oil well production. Therefore, researchers have shown an interest in chemical treatments to control this phenomenon. The aim of this paper is to assess the asphaltenes precipitation onset of crude oils in the presence of cardanol, by titrating the crude with n-heptane. Moreover, based on this results obtained at atmosphere pressure, the asphaltenes precipitation onset pressure were calculated to predict asphaltenes precipitation in the reservoir, by using differential liberation and refractive index data of the oils. The influence of cardanol concentrations in the asphaltenes stabilization of three Brazilian crude oils samples (with similar API densities) was studied. Therefore, four formulations of cardanol in toluene were prepared: 0, 3, 5, 10 and 15 m/m%. The formulations were added to the crude at 2:98 ratio. The petroleum samples were characterized by API density, elemental analysis and differential liberation test. The asphaltenes precipitation onset (APO) was determined by titrating with n-heptane and monitoring with near-infrared (NIR). UV-Vis spectroscopy experiments were also done to assess the precipitate asphaltenes content. The asphaltenes precipitation envelopes (APE) were also determined by numerical simulation (Multiflash). In addition, the adequate artificial lift systems (ALS) for the oils were selected. It was based on the downhole well profile and a screening methodology. Finally, the oil flowrates were modelling by NODAL analysis production system in the PIPESIM software. The results of this study show that the asphaltenes precipitation onset of the crude oils were 2.2, 2.3 and 6.0 mL of n-heptane/g of oil. The cardanol was an effective inhibitor of asphaltenes precipitation for the crude oils used in this study, since it displaces the precipitation pressure of the oil to lower values. This indicates that cardanol can increase the oil wells productivity.

Keywords: asphaltenes, NODAL analysis production system, precipitation pressure onset, inhibitory molecule

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13 Oil-Oil Correlation Using Polar and Non-Polar Fractions of Crude Oil: A Case Study in Iranian Oil Fields

Authors: Morteza Taherinezhad, Ahmad Reza Rabbani, Morteza Asemani, Rudy Swennen


Oil-oil correlation is one of the most important issues in geochemical studies that enables to classify oils genetically. Oil-oil correlation is generally estimated based on non-polar fractions of crude oil (e.g., saturate and aromatic compounds). Despite several advantages, the drawback of using these compounds is their susceptibility of being affected by secondary processes. The polar fraction of crude oil (e.g., asphaltenes) has similar characteristics to kerogen, and this structural similarity is preserved during migration, thermal maturation, biodegradation, and water washing. Therefore, these structural characteristics can be considered as a useful correlation parameter, and it can be concluded that asphaltenes from different reservoirs with the same genetic signatures have a similar origin. Hence in this contribution, an integrated study by using both non-polar and polar fractions of oil was performed to use the merits of both fractions. Therefore, five oil samples from oil fields in the Persian Gulf were studied. Structural characteristics of extracted asphaltenes were investigated by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Graphs based on aliphatic and aromatic compounds (predominant compounds in asphaltenes structure) and sulphoxide and carbonyl functional groups (which are representatives of sulphur and oxygen abundance in asphaltenes) were used for comparison of asphaltenes structures in different samples. Non-polar fractions were analyzed by GC-MS. The study of asphaltenes showed the studied oil samples comprise two oil families with distinct genetic characteristics. The first oil family consists of Salman and Reshadat oil samples, and the second oil family consists of Resalat, Siri E, and Siri D oil samples. To validate our results, biomarker parameters were employed, and this approach completely confirmed previous results. Based on biomarker analyses, both oil families have a marine source rock, whereby marl and carbonate source rocks are the source rock for the first and the second oil family, respectively.

Keywords: biomarker, non-polar fraction, oil-oil correlation, petroleum geochemistry, polar fraction

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12 Deasphalting of Crude Oil by Extraction Method

Authors: A. N. Kurbanova, G. K. Sugurbekova, N. K. Akhmetov


The asphaltenes are heavy fraction of crude oil. Asphaltenes on oilfield is known for its ability to plug wells, surface equipment and pores of the geologic formations. The present research is devoted to the deasphalting of crude oil as the initial stage refining oil. Solvent deasphalting was conducted by extraction with organic solvents (cyclohexane, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform). Analysis of availability of metals was conducted by ICP-MS and spectral feature at deasphalting was achieved by FTIR. High contents of asphaltenes in crude oil reduce the efficiency of refining processes. Moreover, high distribution heteroatoms (e.g., S, N) were also suggested in asphaltenes cause some problems: environmental pollution, corrosion and poisoning of the catalyst. The main objective of this work is to study the effect of deasphalting process crude oil to improve its properties and improving the efficiency of recycling processes. Experiments of solvent extraction are using organic solvents held in the crude oil JSC “Pavlodar Oil Chemistry Refinery. Experimental results show that deasphalting process also leads to decrease Ni, V in the composition of the oil. One solution to the problem of cleaning oils from metals, hydrogen sulfide and mercaptan is absorption with chemical reagents directly in oil residue and production due to the fact that asphalt and resinous substance degrade operational properties of oils and reduce the effectiveness of selective refining of oils. Deasphalting of crude oil is necessary to separate the light fraction from heavy metallic asphaltenes part of crude oil. For this oil is pretreated deasphalting, because asphaltenes tend to form coke or consume large quantities of hydrogen. Removing asphaltenes leads to partly demetallization, i.e. for removal of asphaltenes V/Ni and organic compounds with heteroatoms. Intramolecular complexes are relatively well researched on the example of porphyinous complex (VO2) and nickel (Ni). As a result of studies of V/Ni by ICP MS method were determined the effect of different solvents-deasphalting – on the process of extracting metals on deasphalting stage and select the best organic solvent. Thus, as the best DAO proved cyclohexane (C6H12), which as a result of ICP MS retrieves V-51.2%, Ni-66.4%? Also in this paper presents the results of a study of physical and chemical properties and spectral characteristics of oil on FTIR with a view to establishing its hydrocarbon composition. Obtained by using IR-spectroscopy method information about the specifics of the whole oil give provisional physical, chemical characteristics. They can be useful in the consideration of issues of origin and geochemical conditions of accumulation of oil, as well as some technological challenges. Systematic analysis carried out in this study; improve our understanding of the stability mechanism of asphaltenes. The role of deasphalted crude oil fractions on the stability asphaltene is described.

Keywords: asphaltenes, deasphalting, extraction, vanadium, nickel, metalloporphyrins, ICP-MS, IR spectroscopy

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11 Blending Effects on Crude Oil Stability: An Experimental Study

Authors: Muheddin Hamza, Entisar Etter


This study is a part of investigating the possibility of blending two crude oils obtained from Libyan oil fields, namely crude oil (A) and crude oil (B) with different ratios, prior to blending the crude oils have to be compatible in order to avoid phase out and precipitation of asphaltene from the bulk of crude. The physical properties of both crudes such as density, viscosity, pour point and sulphur content were measured according to (ASTM) method. To examine the stability of both crudes and their blends, the oil compatibility model using microscopic, colloidal instability index (CII) using SARA analysis and asphaltene stabilization test using Turbiscan tests were conducted in the Libyan Petroleum Institute laboratories. Compatibility tests were carried out with both crude oils, the insolubility number (IN), and the solubility blending number (SBN), for both crude oils and their blends were calculated. The criteria for compatibility of any blend is that the volume average solubility blending number (SBN) is greater than the insolubility number (IN) of any component in the blend, the results indicated that both crudes were compatible. To support the results of compatibility tests the SARA analysis was done for the fractional determination of (saturates, aromatics, resins and asphaltenes) content. From this result, the colloidal Instability index (CII) and resin to asphaltenes ratio (R/A) were calculated for crudes and their blends. The results show that crude oil (B) which has higher (R/A) and lower (CII) is more stable than crude oil (A) and as the ratio of crude (B) increases in the blend the (CII) and (R/A) were improved, and the blends becomes more stable. Asphaltene stabilization test was also conducted for the crudes and their blends using Turbiscan MA200 according to the standard test method ASTM D7061-04, the Turbiscan shows that the crude (B) is more stable than crude (A) which shows a fair tendency. The (CII) and (R/A) were compared with the solubility number (SBN) for each crude and the blends along with Turbiscan results. The solubility blending number (SBN) of the crudes and their blends show that the crudes are compatible, also by comparing (R/A) and (SBN) values of the blends, it can be seen that they are complements of each other. All the experimental results show that the blends of both crudes are more stability.

Keywords: asphaltene, crude oil, compatibility, oil blends, resin, SARA

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10 Desulphurization of Waste Tire Pyrolytic Oil (TPO) Using Photodegradation and Adsorption Techniques

Authors: Moshe Mello, Hilary Rutto, Tumisang Seodigeng


The nature of tires makes them extremely challenging to recycle due to the available chemically cross-linked polymer and, therefore, they are neither fusible nor soluble and, consequently, cannot be remolded into other shapes without serious degradation. Open dumping of tires pollutes the soil, contaminates underground water and provides ideal breeding grounds for disease carrying vermins. The thermal decomposition of tires by pyrolysis produce char, gases and oil. The composition of oils derived from waste tires has common properties to commercial diesel fuel. The problem associated with the light oil derived from pyrolysis of waste tires is that it has a high sulfur content (> 1.0 wt.%) and therefore emits harmful sulfur oxide (SOx) gases to the atmosphere when combusted in diesel engines. Desulphurization of TPO is necessary due to the increasing stringent environmental regulations worldwide. Hydrodesulphurization (HDS) is the commonly practiced technique for the removal of sulfur species in liquid hydrocarbons. However, the HDS technique fails in the presence of complex sulfur species such as Dibenzothiopene (DBT) present in TPO. This study aims to investigate the viability of photodegradation (Photocatalytic oxidative desulphurization) and adsorptive desulphurization technologies for efficient removal of complex and non-complex sulfur species in TPO. This study focuses on optimizing the cleaning (removal of impurities and asphaltenes) process by varying process parameters; temperature, stirring speed, acid/oil ratio and time. The treated TPO will then be sent for vacuum distillation to attain the desired diesel like fuel. The effect of temperature, pressure and time will be determined for vacuum distillation of both raw TPO and the acid treated oil for comparison purposes. Polycyclic sulfides present in the distilled (diesel like) light oil will be oxidized dominantly to the corresponding sulfoxides and sulfone via a photo-catalyzed system using TiO2 as a catalyst and hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizing agent and finally acetonitrile will be used as an extraction solvent. Adsorptive desulphurization will be used to adsorb traces of sulfurous compounds which remained during photocatalytic desulphurization step. This desulphurization convoy is expected to give high desulphurization efficiency with reasonable oil recovery.

Keywords: adsorption, asphaltenes, photocatalytic oxidation, pyrolysis

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9 Scope of Heavy Oil as a Fuel of the Future

Authors: Kiran P. Chadayamuri, Saransh Bagdi


Increasing imbalance between energy supply and demand has made nations and companies involved in the energy sector to boost up their research and find suitable solutions. With the high rates at which conventional oil and gas resources are depleting, efficient exploration and exploitation of heavy oil could just be the answer. Heavy oil may be defined as crude oil having API gravity value of less than 20⁰. They are highly viscous, have low hydrogen to carbon ratios and are known to produce high carbon residues. They have high contents of asphaltenes, heavy metals, sulphur and nitrogen in them. Due to these properties extraction, transportation and refining of crude oil have its share of challenges. Lack of suitable technology has hindered its production in the past, but now things are going in a more positive direction. The aim of this paper is to study the various advantages of heavy oil, associated limitations and its feasibility as a fuel of the future.

Keywords: energy, heavy oil, fuel, future

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8 Mixed Natural Adsorbents and Oxides for Oil Remediation

Authors: Cesar Maximo Oliva González, Javier Acevedo Cortez, Boris Kharisov, Thelma Serrano Quezada


The importance of the crude oil refining process is due to the demand for petroleum products such as gasoline, kerosene, asphalt, etc., which are used in daily activities and have a high impact on the global economy. In the processes of oil obtaining and refining, it is common to find problems such as spills on seabed and high energy consumption in processing. In order to quickly and efficiently attack these problems, the use of adsorbents has taken on great importance due to its ease of implementation, as well as the possibility of their regeneration to be reused. In this work, the use of two types of adsorbents is proposed: the first is a natural adsorbent such as aloe vera or nopal, which were lyophilized and hydrophobized to achieve a selectivity in oil adsorption in oil / water mixtures. The second is a mixed iron/nickel oxide, which is specially designed to adsorb the asphaltenes in the heavy fractions of the oil; in addition, this type of adsorbents presents catalytic properties that manage to decompose the heavier fractions of the petroleum in light hydrocarbons, descending thus the energy required for the oil refining process.

Keywords: nanomaterials, oil spills, remediation, natural adsorbents, mixed oxides

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7 Effect of Naphtha on the Composition of a Heavy Crude, in Addition to a Cycle Steam Stimulation Process

Authors: A. Guerrero, A. Leon, S. Munoz, M. Sandoval


The addition of solvent to cyclic steam stimulation is done in order to reduce the solvent-vapor ratio at late stages of the process, the moment in which this relationship increases significantly. The study of the use of naphtha in addition to the cyclic steam stimulation has been mainly oriented to the effect it achieves on the incremental recovery compared to the application of steam only. However, the effect of naphtha on the reactivity of crude oil components under conditions of cyclic steam stimulation or if its effect is the only dilution has not yet been considered, to author’s best knowledge. The present study aims to evaluate and understand the effect of naphtha and the conditions of cyclic steam stimulation, on the remaining composition of the improved oil, as well as the main mechanisms present in the heavy crude - naphtha interaction. Tests were carried out with the system solvent (naphtha)-oil (12.5° API, 4216 cP @ 40° C)- steam, in a batch micro-reactor, under conditions of cyclic steam stimulation (250-300 °C, 400 psi). The characterization of the samples obtained was carried out by MALDI-TOF MS (matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry) and NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) techniques. The results indicate that there is a rearrangement of the microstructure of asphaltenes, resulting in a decrease in these and an increase in lighter components such as resins.

Keywords: composition change, cyclic steam stimulation, interaction mechanism, naphtha

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6 An Evaluation of Solubility of Wax and Asphaltene in Crude Oil for Improved Flow Properties Using a Copolymer Solubilized in Organic Solvent with an Aromatic Hydrocarbon

Authors: S. M. Anisuzzaman, Sariah Abang, Awang Bono, D. Krishnaiah, N. M. Ismail, G. B. Sandrison


Wax and asphaltene are high molecular weighted compounds that contribute to the stability of crude oil at a dispersed state. Transportation of crude oil along pipelines from the oil rig to the refineries causes fluctuation of temperature which will lead to the coagulation of wax and flocculation of asphaltenes. This paper focuses on the prevention of wax and asphaltene precipitate deposition on the inner surface of the pipelines by using a wax inhibitor and an asphaltene dispersant. The novelty of this prevention method is the combination of three substances; a wax inhibitor dissolved in a wax inhibitor solvent and an asphaltene solvent, namely, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) copolymer dissolved in methylcyclohexane (MCH) and toluene (TOL) to inhibit the precipitation and deposition of wax and asphaltene. The objective of this paper was to optimize the percentage composition of each component in this inhibitor which can maximize the viscosity reduction of crude oil. The optimization was divided into two stages which are the laboratory experimental stage in which the viscosity of crude oil samples containing inhibitor of different component compositions is tested at decreasing temperatures and the data optimization stage using response surface methodology (RSM) to design an optimizing model. The results of experiment proved that the combination of 50% EVA + 25% MCH + 25% TOL gave a maximum viscosity reduction of 67% while the RSM model proved that the combination of 57% EVA + 20.5% MCH + 22.5% TOL gave a maximum viscosity reduction of up to 61%.

Keywords: asphaltene, ethylene-vinyl acetate, methylcyclohexane, toluene, wax

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5 Re-Os Application to Petroleum System: Implications from the Geochronology and Oil-Source Correlation of Duvernay Petroleum System, Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin

Authors: Junjie Liu, David Selby, Mark Obermajer, Andy Mort


The inaugural application of Re-Os dating, which is based on the beta decay of 187Re to 187Os with a long half-life of 41.577 ± 0.12 Byr and initially used for sulphide minerals and organic rich rocks, to petroleum systems was performed on bitumen of the Polaris Mississippi Valley Type Pb-Zn deposit, Canada. To further our understanding of the Re-Os system and its application to petroleum systems, here we present a study on Duvernay Petroleum System, Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin. The Late Devonian Duvernay Formation organic-rich shales are the only source of the petroleum system. The Duvernay shales reached maturation only during the Laramide Orogeny (80 – 35 Ma) and the generated oil migrated short distances into the interfingering Leduc reefs and overlying Nisku carbonates with no or little secondary alteration post oil-generation. Although very low in Re and Os, the asphaltenes of Duvernay-sourced Leduc and Nisku oils define a Laramide Re-Os age. In addition, the initial Os isotope compositions of the oil samples are similar to that of the Os isotope composition of the Duvernay Formation at the time of oil generation, but are very different to other oil-prone intervals of the basin, showing the ability of the Os isotope composition as an inorganic oil-source correlation tool. In summary, the ability of the Re-Os geochronometer to record the timing of oil generation and trace the source of an oil is confirmed in the Re-Os study of Duvernay Petroleum System.

Keywords: Duvernay petroleum system, oil generation, oil-source correlation, Re-Os

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4 Physicochemical Characterization of Asphalt Ridge Froth Bitumen

Authors: Nader Nciri, Suil Song, Namho Kim, Namjun Cho


Properties and compositions of bitumen and bitumen-derived liquids have significant influences on the selection of recovery, upgrading and refining processes. Optimal process conditions can often be directly related to these properties. The end uses of bitumen and bitumen products are thus related to their compositions. Because it is not possible to conduct a complete analysis of the molecular structure of bitumen, characterization must be made in other terms. The present paper focuses on physico-chemical analysis of two different types of bitumens. These bitumen samples were chosen based on: the original crude oil (sand oil and crude petroleum), and mode of process. The aim of this study is to determine both the manufacturing effect on chemical species and the chemical organization as a function of the type of bitumen sample. In order to obtain information on bitumen chemistry, elemental analysis (C, H, N, S, and O), heavy metal (Ni, V) concentrations, IATROSCAN chromatography (thin layer chromatography-flame ionization detection), FTIR spectroscopy, and 1H NMR spectroscopy have all been used. The characterization includes information about the major compound types (saturates, aromatics, resins and asphaltenes) which can be compared with similar data for other bitumens, more importantly, can be correlated with data from petroleum samples for which refining characteristics are known. Examination of Asphalt Ridge froth bitumen showed that it differed significantly from representative petroleum pitches, principally in their nonhydrocarbon content, heavy metal content and aromatic compounds. When possible, properties and composition were related to recovery and refining processes. This information is important because of the effects that composition has on recovery and processing reactions.

Keywords: froth bitumen, oil sand, asphalt ridge, petroleum pitch, thin layer chromatography-flame ionization detection, infrared spectroscopy, 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

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3 Constraints on Source Rock Organic Matter Biodegradation in the Biogenic Gas Fields in the Sanhu Depression, Qaidam Basin, Northwestern China: A Study of Compound Concentration and Concentration Ratio Changes Using GC-MS Data

Authors: Mengsha Yin


Extractable organic matter (EOM) from thirty-six biogenic gas source rocks from the Sanhu Depression in Qaidam Basin in northwestern China were obtained via Soxhlet extraction. Twenty-nine of them were conducted SARA (Saturates, Aromatics, Resins and Asphaltenes) separation for bulk composition analysis. Saturated and aromatic fractions of all the extractions were analyzed by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) to investigate the compound compositions. More abundant n-alkanes, naphthalene, phenanthrene, dibenzothiophene and their alkylated products occur in samples in shallower depths. From 2000m downward, concentrations of these compounds increase sharply, and concentration ratios of more-over-less biodegradation susceptible compounds coincidently decrease dramatically. ∑iC15-16, 18-20/∑nC15-16, 18-20 and hopanoids/∑n-alkanes concentration ratios and mono- and tri-aromatic sterane concentrations and concentration ratios frequently fluctuate with depth rather than trend with it, reflecting effects from organic input and paleoenvironments other than biodegradation. Saturated and aromatic compound distributions on the saturates and aromatics total ion chromatogram (TIC) traces of samples display different degrees of biodegradation. Dramatic and simultaneous variations in compound concentrations and their ratios at 2000m and their changes with depth underneath cooperatively justified the crucial control of burial depth on organic matter biodegradation scales in source rocks and prompted the proposition that 2000m is the bottom depth boundary for active microbial activities in this study. The study helps to better curb the conditions where effective source rocks occur in terms of depth in the Sanhu biogenic gas fields and calls for additional attention to source rock pore size estimation during biogenic gas source rock appraisals.

Keywords: pore space, Sanhu depression, saturated and aromatic hydrocarbon compound concentration, source rock organic matter biodegradation, total ion chromatogram

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2 Numerical Investigation of the Boundary Conditions at Liquid-Liquid Interfaces in the Presence of Surfactants

Authors: Bamikole J. Adeyemi, Prashant Jadhawar, Lateef Akanji


Liquid-liquid interfacial flow is an important process that has applications across many spheres. One such applications are residual oil mobilization, where crude oil and low salinity water are emulsified due to lowered interfacial tension under the condition of low shear rates. The amphiphilic components (asphaltenes and resins) in crude oil are considered to assemble at the interface between the two immiscible liquids. To justify emulsification, drag and snap-off suppression as the main effects of low salinity water, mobilization of residual oil is visualized as thickening and slip of the wetting phase at the brine/crude oil interface which results in the squeezing and drag of the non-wetting phase to the pressure sinks. Meanwhile, defining the boundary conditions for such a system can be very challenging since the interfacial dynamics do not only depend on interfacial tension but also the flow rate. Hence, understanding the flow boundary condition at the brine/crude oil interface is an important step towards defining the influence of low salinity water composition on residual oil mobilization. This work presents a numerical evaluation of three slip boundary conditions that may apply at liquid-liquid interfaces. A mathematical model was developed to describe the evolution of a viscoelastic interfacial thin liquid film. The base model is developed by the asymptotic expansion of the full Navier-Stokes equations for fluid motion due to gradients of surface tension. This model was upscaled to describe the dynamics of the film surface deformation. Subsequently, Jeffrey’s model was integrated into the formulations to account for viscoelastic stress within a long wave approximation of the Navier-Stokes equations. To study the fluid response to a prescribed disturbance, a linear stability analysis (LSA) was performed. The dispersion relation and the corresponding characteristic equation for the growth rate were obtained. Three slip (slip, 1; locking, -1; and no-slip, 0) boundary conditions were examined using the resulted characteristic equation. Also, the dynamics of the evolved interfacial thin liquid film were numerically evaluated by considering the influence of the boundary conditions. The linear stability analysis shows that the boundary conditions of such systems are greatly impacted by the presence of amphiphilic molecules when three different values of interfacial tension were tested. The results for slip and locking conditions are consistent with the fundamental solution representation of the diffusion equation where there is film decay. The interfacial films at both boundary conditions respond to exposure time in a similar manner with increasing growth rate which resulted in the formation of more droplets with time. Contrarily, no-slip boundary condition yielded an unbounded growth and it is not affected by interfacial tension.

Keywords: boundary conditions, liquid-liquid interfaces, low salinity water, residual oil mobilization

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1 Microstructural Characterization of Bitumen/Montmorillonite/Isocyanate Composites by Atomic Force Microscopy

Authors: Francisco J. Ortega, Claudia Roman, Moisés García-Morales, Francisco J. Navarro


Asphaltic bitumen has been largely used in both industrial and civil engineering, mostly in pavement construction and roofing membrane manufacture. However, bitumen as such is greatly susceptible to temperature variations, and dramatically changes its in-service behavior from a viscoelastic liquid, at medium-high temperatures, to a brittle solid at low temperatures. Bitumen modification prevents these problems and imparts improved performance. Isocyanates like polymeric MDI (mixture of 4,4′-diphenylmethane di-isocyanate, 2,4’ and 2,2’ isomers, and higher homologues) have shown to remarkably enhance bitumen properties at the highest in-service temperatures expected. This comes from the reaction between the –NCO pendant groups of the oligomer and the most polar groups of asphaltenes and resins in bitumen. In addition, oxygen diffusion and/or UV radiation may provoke bitumen hardening and ageing. With the purpose of minimizing these effects, nano-layered-silicates (nanoclays) are increasingly being added to bitumen formulations. Montmorillonites, a type of naturally occurring mineral, may produce a nanometer scale dispersion which improves bitumen thermal, mechanical and barrier properties. In order to increase their lipophilicity, these nanoclays are normally treated so that organic cations substitute the inorganic cations located in their intergallery spacing. In the present work, the combined effect of polymeric MDI and the commercial montmorillonite Cloisite® 20A was evaluated. A selected bitumen with penetration within the range 160/220 was modified with 10 wt.% Cloisite® 20A and 2 wt.% polymeric MDI, and the resulting ternary composites were characterized by linear rheology, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). The rheological tests evidenced a notable solid-like behavior at the highest temperatures studied when bitumen was just loaded with 10 wt.% Cloisite® 20A and high-shear blended for 20 minutes. However, if polymeric MDI was involved, the sequence of addition exerted a decisive control on the linear rheology of the final ternary composites. Hence, in bitumen/Cloisite® 20A/polymeric MDI formulations, the previous solid-like behavior disappeared. By contrast, an inversion in the order of addition (bitumen/polymeric MDI/ Cloisite® 20A) enhanced further the solid-like behavior imparted by the nanoclay. In order to gain a better understanding of the factors that govern the linear rheology of these ternary composites, a morphological and microstructural characterization based on XRD and AFM was conducted. XRD demonstrated the existence of clay stacks intercalated by bitumen molecules to some degree. However, the XRD technique cannot provide detailed information on the extent of nanoclay delamination, unless the entire fraction has effectively been fully delaminated (situation in which no peak is observed). Furthermore, XRD was unable to provide precise knowledge neither about the spatial distribution of the intercalated/exfoliated platelets nor about the presence of other structures at larger length scales. In contrast, AFM proved its power at providing conclusive information on the morphology of the composites at the nanometer scale and at revealing the structural modification that yielded the rheological properties observed. It was concluded that high-shear blending brought about a nanoclay-reinforced network. As for the bitumen/Cloisite® 20A/polymeric MDI formulations, the solid-like behavior was destroyed as a result of the agglomeration of the nanoclay platelets promoted by chemical reactions.

Keywords: Atomic Force Microscopy, bitumen, composite, isocyanate, montmorillonite.

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