Langmuir, Vol.36, No.8, 2063-2070, 2020
Interaction Between the Cyclopentane Hydrate Particle and Water Droplet in Hydrocarbon Oil
The presence of immiscible water drops in bulk hydrocarbon is likely to bridge hydrate particles to cause hydrate agglomeration, leading to potential pipeline blockage. This can become a major challenge for flow assurance in offshore petroleum transportation. To avoid hydrate aggregation, the attachment between hydrate and water drops should be avoided. In this study, we used our home-designed integrated thin film drainage apparatus to investigate the interactions between a hydrate particle and a water drop inside model oil (i.e., mixture of cyclopentane and toluene with a volumetric ratio of 1:1). Our experiments showed that asphaltenes, a natural component in crude oil, were an effective inhibitor for the attachment between water drops and hydrate particles. Without asphaltenes in the system, the water drop adhered to the hydrate particle immediately after the two surfaces contacted. By adding 0.03 g/L asphaltenes into the oil phase, the attachment was delayed by 0.7 s when the applied preload force was set to around 0.05 mN. By increasing the asphaltenes addition to 0.05 g/L, the attachment between the hydrate and water drop was prevented even when the contact time lasted up to 25 s. This phenomenon could be explained by the adsorption of an asphaltenes layer along the interface between the aqueous drop and hydrocarbon. Measurements of the dynamic interfacial tension and trumping ratio confirmed the presence of the adsorption layer. The addition of 0.6 mol/L NaCl or 0.3 mol/L CaCl2 in the aqueous drop could further enhance the strength of the adsorption layer. Results of this research provide understanding of the benefits of asphaltenes and salt in preventing hydrate agglomeration.