Electrostatic destabilization of water-in-oil emulsions under conditions of turbulent flow : Oil and natural gas production

Chemical Engineering Research & Design(1996)

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The influence of a 50 Hz electric field on chemically stabilized water-in-oil emulsions has been investigated. The parameters which have been varied are electric field strength, water concentration, surfactant concentration and residence time in the electric field. The Volume Median Diameter (VMD) of the disperse aqueous droplets, while varying the different parameters, has been determined using a Malvern particle sizer. The results show that this can be a very efficient and rapid way of breaking water-in-oil emulsions. The main significance of the data is that electrocoalescence has been shown to be highly effective under turbulent flow conditions. For many of the experiments conducted, especially at the low water cuts, the increase in VMD during flow through the electrocoalescer (average residence time 7 seconds at an emulsion flow rate of 601 min -1 ) is a factor of about 10.
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