To understand the process of Demulsification, one should have an idea about emulsion. Emulsion is not always a purposefully done process, this is why demulsification is used in many cases to separate different mediums out of each other, most commonly used for crude oil. It is the procedure to extract/separate emulsions, i.e. oil and water for one.There are different techniques used for the process, as it’s reliability is still heavily researched and studied to find out the best possible way to undo an emulsion. Among other infamous techniques, following are three famously practised techniques used for Crude Oil Demulsification:
- Chemical Demulsification
The most commonly used technique/process to extract water from crude oil is using chemicals to do so. One such chemical is Compound Crude Oil Demulsifier (AD-501). It’s a chemical in liquid form, considered to have low toxicity and environmental hazards, as the dehydration rate after oil extraction is pretty high. It is also known as a faster method towards demulsification than other procedures, as it does not require complicated before or after preparation. It also eliminates any need for major energy usage like in other procedures such as electrical demulsification. This is mainly the reason why it’s the most commonly used method in the petroleum industry.
Another technique which is a bit more complicated is electrical demulsification. The procedure requires usage of electrodes towards opposing sides of the emulsion, an electrical current is passed through the emulsion, which works as an active component because the emulsion carries current, making the liquid water molecules turn to oxygen and hydrogen.this process breaks the emulsion successfully, separating oil as the water separates on its own, by turning into gas.
Adapting this procedure for demulsification instead of Oil Demulsifier means having a large setup that matches up to the large quantity of emulsion liquid. Otherwise it would not only be time consuming but also expensive in terms of electricity required to complete the process.
- Thermal Demulsification
Thermal demulsification is one that is under much experimentation due to the fact that it can be used as a hybrid method to improve the efficiency of the process. Thermal demulsification in itself however is the simple act of using temperature raise or drop to separate the two components of an emulsion. A hot plate of sorts is used in the procedure, where the emulsion is brought to a freezing point and then gradually heated up. This makes the molecules of different substances leave the bond and water could possibly evaporate, turning into gas. It all sounds basic chemistry class procedure, and it fundamentally is, no matter how careful a procedure. But experimenters have noticed the increase in speed and efficiency of the mechanism, by combining thermal with chemical demulsification.
On its own, both the operations work fine, but using a chemical within the thermal method such as the AD-501 itself, makes it a further more effective operation.