Definition - What does Demulsifier mean?

Demulsifier, also known as emulsion breaker, is an extremely active chemical chosen for restricted solubility in oil and water. It performs its work by causing a reaction between a hydrophobic molecule like a protracted chain alkylphenol and alkene or propene compound. Demilsifiers 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.

Petropedia explains Demulsifier

Demulsifiers separate emulsions such as water in oil. Fossil fuel from a reservoir tends to come mixed with either natural formation water or mixed formation and injection water. This made mixture is termed 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 the 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 the demulsifier performance on a regular basis.

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