Download the full-sized PDF of Understanding stability of water-in-diluted bitumen emulsions by colloidal force measurementsDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

Understanding stability of water-in-diluted bitumen emulsions by colloidal force measurements Open Access


Other title
colloidal force
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Wang, Shengqun
Supervisor and department
Jacob Masliyah (Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering)
Zhenghe Xu (Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Tayfun Babadagli (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering)
Tony Yeung (Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering)
Harvey Yarranton (University of Calgary)
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Removal of emulsified water is a challenge in oil sands and heavy oil processing. The flocculation and coagulation of emulsified water droplets depend on the interactions between the water droplets covered mainly by asphaltenes and oil-contaminated fine solids. To quantitatively evaluate the stability of water-in-diluted bitumen emulsions, this research determined the interactions between asphaltene surfaces in model oils, heptane, toluene or a mixture of the two known as heptol, by colloidal force measurements using atomic force microscopy (AFM) in combination with the Langmuir-Blodgett technique. The effect of aromaticity of the solvents, temperature and water content of the solvents on asphaltenes-asphaltenes interactions was systematically investigated. The results showed that the interaction forces between asphaltenes are highly sensitive to the aromaticity of the organic solvents. In solvents of higher aromaticity, a repulsive force existed between asphaltene surfaces; whereas in solvents of lower aromaticity, a weak attraction was detected. The transition from repulsion to attraction indicates that it is possible to control asphaltenes-asphaltenes interactions, and ultimately to control the stability of asphaltene-stabilized water droplets in oil, through tuning the aromaticity of the organic solvents. By fitting the measured force profiles with theoretical models, the nature of the forces was determined, which provides insights into the mechanisms of asphaltene-stabilized water-in-oil emulsions. The concomitant benefit of the results from the direct force measurement is to predict asphaltene precipitation with change of solvent composition. Oil-contaminated fine solids not only help stabilize water-in-diluted bitumen emulsions but are detrimental to bitumen upgrading. To control the wettability of these fine solids, a preliminary study was carried out in this work to explore the potential of ethyl cellulose (EC), an effective demulsifier for water-in-diluted bitumen emulsion, as a surface wettability modifier of the oil-contaminated solids. It was found that EC is able to reduce the surface hydrophobicity of the asphaltene- and bitumen-contaminated solids and thus enhances their removal from bitumen froth. The mechanism of increased wettability by EC addition was determined by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D) and AFM topographical imaging. The results from this study can help establish the criteria for selecting and developing chemical modifiers for applications in wettability control of oil-contaminated solids.
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 these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before 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.
Citation for previous publication

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (Portable Document Format)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 2800518
Last modified: 2015:10:12 10:37:32-06:00
Filename: Shengqun_Wang_Spring 2011.pdf
Original checksum: a2207e20ba0310e040a9496399c6378f
Well formed: true
Valid: true
File title: PhD thesis
File author: Shengqun Wang
Page count: 177
File language: en-US
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date