Definition - What does Asphaltenes mean?
Asphaltenes are molecular substances that are found in crude oil along with other petroleum constituents such as paraffins, naphthenes, aromatics and resins. They consist of molecules of sulfur, carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen, along with traces of vanadium and nickel. The carbon to hydrogen ratio (C:H ratio) in Asphaltenes is close to 1:1.2 depending on the source of the Asphaltenes.
Petropedia explains Asphaltenes
Asphaltenes are always present in crude oil, and they need to be removed during the processing phase of crude oil in a refinery. In the petroleum industry, Asphaltenes are best-known for clogging highly capitalized infrastructure, such as well tubulars, crude oil pipelines, and subsurface equipment such as pumps and compressors. This clogging can eventually bring the production to a halt.
Heavy category crude oil has high concentrations of Asphaltene but this concentration usually remains stable during heavy crude oil productions and thus it does not lead to well clogging. However, there are more chances of well clogging when a light category of crude oil is produced because it has varying amounts of Asphaltene concentration, which may get deposited into the production tubular.When crude oil is refined, Asphaltene in the form of asphalt is generated and is considered to be a waste material or byproduct (low-quality and low-cost material) and is generally used with bitumen in preparation of charcoal which is used in the preparation of roads, roof proofing, etc.