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Stability of water-in-diluted bitumen emulsion droplets Open Access


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Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Gao, Song
Supervisor and department
Zhenghe Xu, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
Jacob Masliyah, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
Examining committee member and department
Tony Yeung, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
Suzanne Giasson, University of Montreal
Kevin Moran, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
Subir Bhattacharjee, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
There are several technical challenges in large scale heavy oil processing. In the oil sand industry, for example, the existence of water-in-oil emulsion in diluted bitumen produced from froth treatment presents a great challenge to the industry. In this work, the effect of different bitumen components, including asphaltenes, maltenes (deasphalted bitumen) and indigenous naphthenic acids (NAs), on the stability of water-in-diluted model oil emulsion was systematically investigated. A biodegradable polymer was developed and introduced to break the water-in-oil emulsions. The stability of water-in-oil emulsions depends on the mechanical barrier between two approaching water droplets in model oil with bitumen components. The micron-scale techniques are used in this study to study the mechanical behavior of emulsion drops due to its priority to maintain the surface area to volume ratio which is representative of the commercially observed emulsions. Several parameters, including interfacial tension isotherm, crumpling ratio and probability of coalescence, were measured to understand the interfacial reheology. Based on these experiments, the mechanical properties of emulsion drops can be evaluated in situ. A non-toxic and biodegradable polymer, ethylcellulose, was used to break up the water-in-diluted bitumen emulsion. The demulsification mechanism was studied in this work. The knowledge from this work provides improved insights on molecular mechanism of emulsion stability/demulsification and contributes to the design of demulsification systems in industrial oil sands extraction processes.
License granted by SONG GAO ( on 2009-12-21T15:21:57Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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