Demulsifier

Definition - What does Demulsifier mean?

Demulsifiers are extremely active chemicals chosen for restricted solubility in oil and water. They typically perform by reacting a hydrophobic molecule like a protracted chain alkylphenol with alkene or propene compound.

They are utilized in the processing of fossil fuel, which is often extracted near saltwater. This water (and salt) should be eliminated from the fossil fuel before processing. If the bulk of the water and salt are not removed, serious corrosion issues may occur during processing.

Demulsifiers are also known as emulsion breakers.

Corrosionpedia explains Demulsifier

Demulsifiers are fuel additives and a category of specialty chemicals that separate emulsions (such as water in oil). Fossil fuel made from a reservoir tends to become mixed with either natural formation water or mixed formation and injection water. This made mixture is termed an oil and water emulsion. It is crucial that the fossil oil is expeditiously separated from the water to permit dry oil to be exported and clean water to be discharged, thus increasing fossil fuel value and minimizing operational prices.

The severity of the emulsion and the benefits of separating it depends on several factors, including:

  • Properties of the fossil fuel
  • Production temperature
  • Distance between reservoir and topsides
  • Degree of agitation between reservoir and extractor
  • Presence of solids and/or natural surfactants that act to stabilize the emulsion

The most common technique of breaking emulsions is with the utilization of demulsifying/desalting chemicals. These chemicals act on the emulsion by:

  • Flocculation of oil droplets
  • Dropping of the water
  • Coalescence of water droplets

Demulsifier choice is mostly performed by the bottle test method. When field conditions change over time, it is essential to optimize demulsifier performance on a regular basis.

Commercially available demulsifier formulations are typically a mixture of two to four different chemistries, in carrier solvent(s) such as xylene, heavy aromatic naptha (HAN), isopropanol, methanol, 2-ethylhexanol or diesel.

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