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Types of Emulsion Breakers and Emulsion Emulsifiers

When dehydrating crude oil, an emulsion breaker must be accompanied by an oil dryer. The former works rapidly by reducing the water content of the oil by flocculating large droplets. Base sediment and water (BS+W) content is normally greater than one percent, so the emulsion breaker alone is not enough. The drying demulsifiers, on the other hand, take a longer time to coalesce fine emulsion droplets. The mixture must be balanced to achieve the target. The characteristics of each type are listed below.

Biodegradable Alkoxylated Polyester Dendrimers

Alkoxylated dendrimers are a type of synthetic polymer with molecular weights ranging from 2400 to 100 000 g/mol, and a degree of alkoxylation of one to a hundred per free OH group. The alkoxylated dendrimers are generally used in small amounts, ranging from 0.0001% to 5% of the oil content of the emulsion.

The process used to synthesize dendrimers for the purpose of emulsion breaker is based on the chemistry of polymerization. Polymers are alkoxylated by introducing C2-C4 alkylene oxides to one another. Propylene oxide is preferred over ethylene oxide because it is more refractory. In addition, ethylene oxide is preferable because of its lower cost and easier processing.

Polymer-based emulsion breakers containing alkoxylated alkylene dendrimers are preferred over those with ethoxylated dendrimers. The alkoxylated polyesters are biodegradable and based on polyfunctional alcohol or carboxylic acid. Dendrimers containing AB2 units are rare and expensive.

Several patents disclose biodegradable alkoxylated polyester amides as an alternative to amine-based dendrimers. Dendrimers have an improved biodegradation profile and can be used in heat-curing resins.

emulsion breakers

Chemical Demulsifiers

Emulsions are formed when water and oil combine. This high water content causes pipeline corrosion and refinery problems. As a result, chemical demulsifiers are essential before crude oil can be refined. Chemical demulsifiers help break these emulsions so that water content can be reduced, and the crude oil and wastewater quality can be improved. Emulsion stability is a result of an interfacial film that forms at the oil-water interface. To break this interfacial film, coalescent droplets must be broken, and chemical demulsifiers are used to help break them.

The strength of adsorption on the water-oil interface is related to the efficiency of demulsifiers. This relationship provides new selection guidelines for chemical demulsifiers. This equation explains the relationship between adsorption strength and the efficacy of demulsifier additives.

Emulsion breakers have been in use for several years. Their use is not limited to petroleum refining. They are used to break up emulsions in various industries, including petrochemicals and other liquefied fuels. Unlike their liquid counterparts, emulsion breakers can reduce waste and maximize profits. These products also reduce waste and improve the efficiency of operators.

Electric Emulsion Breakers

Electric emulsion breakers are essentially devices used to introduce an emulsion into an electric field. The emulsion is forced through a pipe leading to an electric treater. The pipe is connected to the distributor means in the electric treater.

Emulsion breakers are not as simple as they sound. They can be highly effective but are not cheap. Engineers take special care to avoid equipment failure. For example, when using a single emulsion breaker to separate different batches of wastewater, engineers may tighten tolerances on water content. Likewise, emulsion breakers are also required for separating turbidity. Because different products require different levels of separation, engineers often use different types of emulsion breakers.

The Bottom Line

Emulsion breakers work by making a water-in-oil compound less viscous. This makes it easier to pump. They also allow offshore producers to safely return salt water after an oil spill. However, timing is key when choosing an emulsion breaker. Depending on the situation, there are several different types of breakers. Some breakers can be used for a single application, while others have multiple purposes.