The components of a demulsifier formulation can be characterised according to their primary function; droppers or treaters. Some components may also function effectively in other aspects of the performance requirements and certain compounds can provide a multi-purpose hybrid function in a particular crude oil (Fig. 1).
The primary function of these compounds is to flocculate the large number of sub-micron water droplets dispersed in the crude oil (Fig. 3). Water droplets are concentrated at the base of the oil column prior to coalescence and the crude oil is dehydrated above the settling level of the flocculated water droplets. This is noticeable by a brightening of the top oil. Our treaters are typically based on high molecular weight polymeric molecules with hydrophilic ‘tips’ which solvate into the water droplets and facilitate ‘gathering’.
The primary function of these compounds is to coalesce water droplets and release free water (Fig. 2). This class of demulsifiers also show excellent desalting properties. Our range of Kemelix and Synperonic droppers are specifically designed to treat heavy crude oil with great efficiency and are selected based on experience and performance for those crude types that are typically challenging to treat.
These compounds incorporate a balance of molecular design features such that both dropper and treater characteristics are exhibited. For certain applications, hybrids may prove more effective than blends of droppers and treaters.
Crude oil desalting is one of the most critical steps in the refining process. Typically, emulsions to be desalted have low amounts of water and are less stable due to some of the naturally occurring emulsion stabilisers having been removed at the original demulsification stage. Our unique range of desalters have proven through experience to achieve rapid water separation at low addition rates and have the versatility to cope with frequent changes of crude of different origin.
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