by Jenna Mallon (’18)
Emulsions, mixtures containing two immiscible liquids, are used in a variety of industries including food, paint, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and oil/gas. Emulsions play a large role in petroleum production since they exist at every stage of production, from crude oil to the refined petroleum. Issues arise when it comes to the transport of petroleum: the emulsions in the petroleum may contain solids and gases, and so the components of the emulsions may interact or rearrange. Both of these occurrences lead to decreased flow rates. There are currently strategies to improve emulsion flow through pipelines, but all of them create new problems.
Fadairo Adesina and a team of researchers from the Covenant University in Ota, Nigeria set out to create a biodiesel additive that would improve emulsion flow. The team used oil extracted from dried Jatropha Curcas seeds in order to create the biodiesel. In order to test its effectiveness, the team prepared four different samples containing different amounts of the biodiesel at an 80/20 oil/water emulsion mixture. Sample A was the 80/20 emulsion (acting as the control), sample B contained 90% A and 10% biodiesel, sample C contained 75% A and 25% biodiesel, and sample D contained 60% A and 40% biodiesel. Using a laboratory set-up, the different samples were pulled through a pipe system by a vacuum, and the flow rates were recorded by a stopwatch. The biodiesel was successful in creating less viscous emulsions to improve flow rates.
The results from this study have the ability to lead to large improvements in the oil industry. Further research should be aimed at creating more efficient ways to extract the oil for the biodiesel, as well as testing its effectiveness on a larger scale.
- Adesina, et al., Bio-diesel based additive for enhancing flow of emulsion in pipeline. Advances in Chemical Engineering and Science 6, 288-293 (2016). doi: 10.4236/aces.2016.63029.
- Imaged retrieved from: http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/02/21/43/2214366_ca37c9af.jpg