FlowCam® imaging particle analysis technology, from Fluid Imaging Technologies, has been shown in an independent study by Baker Hughes, a GE Company, to be a more informative method for assessing water produced during oil extraction than conventional spectrophotometry.
Oil extraction companies are legally obliged to ensure the quality of water used in their processing before it is allowed to re-enter the environment. This water is held in storage ‘skim’ tanks where it is treated with water clarifiers or demulsifiers.
Reverse Emulsion Breakers (REBS) are required to coalesce oil into larger molecules that can then be removed by ‘skimming’. Although spectrophotometry, the commonly used approach for assessing water quality, quantifies the amount of oil present in the water it does not provide measurements of droplet size or distribution or give any insight into oil droplet behaviour during the reverse emulsion process.
FlowCam technology, from Fluid Imaging Technologies, which delivers high-resolution images of particles in liquid samples using patented oil-immersion flow microscopy, has been used by Baker Hughes to investigate the efficacy of three different REBs for oil-in-water clarification. Oil droplet size, oil/solids concentration, and particle size distribution were all measured in the water generated during oil extraction before and after REB treatment at 1 hour and 4-hour intervals.
Particle size and concentration, as a function of time, could be quantified using FlowCam, which thereby permitted a close study of the de-oiling process and mechanism. The comparison that FlowCam made possible showed the most successful REB helped remove oil droplets of all sizes and removed larger drops
completely. With increased treatment time REB efficacy improved as more oil droplets were given time to coalesce and larger droplets moved to the water surface, with only small oil droplets left behind.
The study concluded that FlowCam was eminently suitable for analysing oil in water produced in this fashion, being speedy, comprehensive and only requiring a small amount of sample. Further information on the study can be found here, while a brochure outlining the applications of FlowCam in the oil and gas industries can be downloaded from this page.
The FlowCam products are sold in the UK by Meritics.
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