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A versatile essential in the petroleum industry - Surfactants

October 24,2023

Surfactants are a class of chemical substances with special molecular structure, which can reduce the surface and interface tension at the interface, so that the substances in the dispersion system can be uniformly dispersed in the medium, so as to achieve the effect of wetting, emulsifying, dispersing and foaming. These characteristics make surfactants widely used in chemical, pharmaceutical, daily chemical, food, environmental protection and other fields. In the petroleum industry, the application of surfactants has played an important role.


In the petroleum industry, the application of surfactants is mainly achieved by improving the affinity and hydrophobic properties of oil-water two phases. Because crude oil often contains water and is often mixed phase, it will bring great problems in the process of extraction and transportation. For example, the moisture in crude oil can affect the quality and stability of the oil, while the mixed phase can affect the separation and extraction of the oil. In order to solve these problems, surfactants are widely used in oil industry to separate and extract oil from water.

Taking oil production as an example, the application of surfactants can greatly improve the recovery rate and recovery rate of oil Wells. Because the crude oil often contains a lot of sediment and impurities, and these substances will be deposited in the pipeline during the production process, resulting in pipeline blockage and reduced permeability of the well. The application of surfactants can form a stable interface between the water phase and the oil phase, and can improve the affinity between crude oil and water, so that the impurities and sediment in the oil well can be better suspended in the water phase, avoid deposition in the pipeline, and improve the recovery rate and mining efficiency.

In addition to their extensive applications in oil extraction, surfactants also play an important role in oil storage and transportation. In oil transportation pipeline, an oil film is often formed due to the difference of affinity between the inner wall of the pipeline and the oil, which leads to the decrease of the transportation efficiency and the intensification of corrosion.

The application of surfactants can form a stable film to prevent the formation of oil film, and can improve the affinity between the pipeline wall and the oil, reduce friction, reduce the flow resistance of oil, and improve the transportation efficiency. In addition, the surfactant can also combine with water molecules, so that the water in the pipeline suspended in the oil phase, so as to avoid water analysis into the oil phase, affecting the quality and stability of the oil.

Surfactants can also play a role in storage. Because the chemical properties of petroleum products are relatively active, they often react with oxygen, moisture and microorganisms in the air, resulting in oil deterioration, oxidation and acidification, thereby reducing the quality and service life of oil products. The application of surfactants can prevent air, water and microorganisms from entering the oil, extend the life of the oil, and can be combined with impurities in the oil to purify the oil.

In addition, surfactants can also be used for oil cleaning and treatment. In the process of oil production and processing, a lot of waste water and waste oil are produced, which often contain a lot of oil and organic pollutants. By forming a stable interface between the water phase and the oil phase, the surfactant makes the oil and organic pollutants more easily dissolved in the water, so as to achieve the cleaning and treatment of wastewater and waste oil.

However, although the application of surfactants in the petroleum industry has been widely recognized and applied

Its impact on the environment can not be ignored. In the process of decomposition and biodegradation of surfactants, harmful intermediates and by-products will be produced, which will have a negative impact on aquatic organisms and ecological environment. Therefore, when using surfactants, it is necessary to strictly follow the relevant environmental protection standards and measures to reduce the damage to the environment as much as possible.

To sum up, surfactants are powerful chemicals that have wide applications and important roles in the petroleum industry. By improving the affinity and disaffinity of the two phases of oil and water, surfactants can realize many functions such as oil and water separation, extraction, cleaning and treatment. However, its impact on the environment also needs to attract sufficient attention and concern, and it is necessary to strengthen the protection of the environment in the application process.

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