Research Programmes

New Strategy for Separation of Complex Water-in-Crude Oil Emulsions: From Bench to Large Scale Separation, Petromaks 2 (2016-2019)

Water‐in‐crude oil emulsions (w/o) are ubiquitous in the petroleum production industry and they need to be processed to obtain anhydrous oil and pure water. As environmental regulations become more rigorous (OSPAR), it is of outmost importance to improve oil-water separation technology in order to successfully process increasingly complex production fluids. That is why this new project aims to improve the knowledge of water-oil separation processes and to develop new separation strategies by focusing on two aspects:

-Better understand the systems problematic in oil-water separation namely the formation of complex multi-component interfaces around droplets and the dense-packed layers with high water content (DPL). The complex interfacial layers will be characterized by state-of-the-art techniques like ellipsometry, Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM), interfacial rheology in shear and dilation, NMR, Film drainage experiments, Isothermal Titration Technology (ITC), FT-ICR-MS and neutron reflectometry. In addition to this experimental work, dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) modelling will be carried out to better understand structure of these systems.

-Combines electrocoalescence and chemicals to improve oil-water separation by performing experiments at various scales followed up by modelling. The new destabilizing agent classes will be developed in collaboration with chemical vendors (AkzoNobel and NalcoChampion). These demulsifiers will be combined with electrocoalescers and tested in large scales at Wärtsilä Oil and Gas facilities.

The project will have Ugelstad Laboratory as host institution with Prof. Johan Sjöblom as project manager and will be conducted in collaboration with University of Alberta, Canada (Prof. Zhenghe Xu), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland (Prof. Jan Vermant), and IFE (Prof. Roar Skartlien and Kenneth Knudsen) with a strong implication from industrial sponsors especially Wärtsilä Oil and Gas (Drs. Morad Amarzguioui and Erik Bjørklund). The project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council via a Petromask II grant and by the following industrial sponsors: AkzoNobel, NalcoCampion and Wärtsilä Oil and Gas. This project will educate 3 PhD candidates and 1 post-doctor as well as well as several master students.

 

Influence of production and EOR chemicals on produced water quality -fundamental knowledge of the fluids for improved produced water management, Petromaks 2 (2016-2020)

The overall goal of the project is to investigate how production and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) chemicals influence produced water quality and treatment. Production chemicals giving rise to poor produced water quality is already an issue within the petroleum industry, while the effects of EOR chemicals on the water quality will increasingly become a challenge as chemical flooding methods are likely to emerge in the years to come. There is, however, a lack of systematic investigations focusing on how the use of the various chemicals affects the produced water quality. Fundamental studies of synergies between indigenous and added components in produced water, the resulting interfacial phenomena and ultimately the implications for produced water treatment are areas of research which will be addressed in this project. The studies will range from small-scale interfacial studies to pilot-scale testing of produced water treatment units, aiming at revealing underlying mechanisms affecting produced water quality and produced water treatment efficiency.

2 PhD candidates 1 post.doc and several master students will be educated within the project. The industrial partners are Statoil, Total and Schlumberger. In addition, the Research Council of Norway will finance the project.

Project manager: Professor Gisle Øye

 

Integrated Crude Oil Transport under Arctic conditions, NORRUSS (2016-2019)

This program will establish Murmansk State Technical University as a leading academic center for flow assurance R&D by cooperating with Ugelstad Laboratory on development of new flow assurance technology for Arctic conditions. The joint research project will map phase stability and rheological stability of ice-in-oil emulsions stabilized by asphaltene-modified wax solids, resin-stabilized asphaltene nanoaggregates, indigenous surfactants, and synthetic emulsifiers. Ice-in-oil dispersions will also serve as a justified analogy to hydrate dispersions in oil. A new comprehensive predictive model for ice-in-oil dispersion stability will provide a scientific basis for a new Arctic flow assurance technology in which precipitated particles, surface active agents, and qualified emulsification serves to eliminate a free water phase in the transport medium, circumventing problems with gas hydrates, corrosion and scaling. An important facet of the program will be to hold open courses on flow assurance and rheology in Murmansk, which will promote use of innovative research methodologies in development of flow assurance technologies. The courses will elevate strategic competence in a key industrial sub-discipline, while strengthening ties between researchers in Norway and Russia.

 

SFI SUBPRO: Subsea Production and Processing Centre (2015-2022)

Subsea production and processing is a key technology for exploitation of Norwegian and international oil and gas resources. New solutions are needed to reduce operation and development cost, to increase the recovery factor, to reduce implementation time for field developments, and to allow development of new more demanding fields, such as in the Northern areas and the Barents sea. To overcome this challenge the centre for innovation (SFI) “subsea production and processing” SUBPRO has been set up at NTNU. It gathers the production and quality engineering, the petroleum Engineering applied geophysics and chemical engineering departments including Ugelstad Laboratory. It aims to become a leading international subsea research centre that provides top quality candidates, knowledge, innovations and technology in partnership with the most important industrial players in the field.

Participants:

  • Norwegian research Council
  • Shell Technology Norway
  • Statoil
  • Aker Solutions
  • Engie
  • DNV-GL
  • ABB
  • Lundin Norway

 

JIP Asphaltenes: Improved Mechanisms of Asphaltene Deposition, Precipitation and Fouling to Minimize Irregularities in Production and Transport (NFR PETROMAKS) 2014 – 2017

Asphaltenes represent heavy polar colloidal fraction in crude oils. Due to pressure variation, processing and production conditions of different crude oils, asphaltenes can precipitate and form organic deposits in oil reservoirs, in wells and on equipment and pipe walls and induce fouling in general. These deposits can cause serious and costly irregularities in production and transport of oil. Several models have been proposed to explain these irregularities but they all suffer from inaccurate asphaltene chemistry. It is by now evident that in order to fully understand and account for the above-mentioned phenomena, the effect of the polydisperse functionality of the asphaltenes must be understood.

In order to follow up the objective, the project will combine small scale tests both at atmospheric and elevated pressures, modelling and capillary loop tests. Finally based on the accumulated knowledge, chemical modifications together with inhibitors will be developed in order to minimize the molecular affinity to pipe surfaces and their interactions in solution.

This project is a collaborative effort between the Ugelstad laboratory, University of Alberta (Canada), University of Pau (France), University of Paraná (Brazil) and several industrial partners.

 

JIP1: Increased Energy Savings in Water-Oil Separation Through Advanced Fundamental Emulsion Paradigms (NFR PETROMAKS) 2011 – 2013

The goal of the project is to advance fundamental knowledge of the water-oil separation process in order to make it more energy efficient and energy saving. The focus will be on accelerating the processing of high volumes of water and viscous oil by speeding-up the sub-processes of creaming and sedimentation of existing emulsions in the first stage. The second stage involves the treatment of concentrated w/o or o/w emulsions. This program is a continuation of two previous JIP projects run in the past 6 years which were focused on an improvement of understanding of the stabilizing and destabilizing mechanisms of water-in crude oil emulsions based on heavy and particle-rich crude oils and also on the modeling (start-up, rheology and separation).

The appearance of emulsions. Photo.

This project is a collaborative effort between the Ugelstad laboratory, University of Alberta, University of Bergen, IFE and several international partners.

 

Participants:
Akzo Nobel
BP
• NALCO Champion
Hamworthy

ENI

Kemira

Saudi Aramco
Statoil
Shell
Total
 

Principal Investigator:
• Prof. J. Sjöblom

Researchers:
• Sebastien Simon
• Serkan Kelesoglu
• Brian A. Grimes

Ph.D. Student:

• Andreas L. Nenningsland
• Karina Kovalchuk

• Albert Barrabino

 

 

JIP2-4: Prediction of Ca-naphthenate deposition in Water-oil systems (2011-2013)

During the past years, extensive work has focused towards naphthenate precipitation from acidic crude oil. Due to a rise in crude pH, the naphthenic acids dissociate and react with divalent cations, especially calcium. These compounds accumulate at the oil/water interface and might cause costly shutdowns. It has been discovered that the key components responsible for the formation of such deposits is a group of molecules having four carboxylic acid groups named Tetra-acids.

This program is a continuation of two previous JIP projects run in the past 6 years. Several key elements about calcium naphthenate were identified. Procedures and methods were developed as well which give the JIP members a technological lead in the naphthenate treatment. The continuation of the project, JIP2-4, was developed towards the establishment of a model predicting calcium naphthenate deposition in oil/water system based on interfacial conditions together with advanced techniques to detect calcium naphthenate formation in an early stage (on a nanogram scale). To fulfil this goal, techniques developed in the previous JIP:2 programs will be used along with new techniques especially developed for the JIP:2-4 program. We intend to establish critical conditions for gel formation.

This project is a collaborative effort between the Ugelstad laboratory and several international partners.

 

Participants:

 

 

Principal Investigator:
• Prof. J. Sjöblom

 

Researchers:
• Sebastien Simon
• Brian A. Grimes

Ph.D. Student:
• Karina Kovalchuk

 

Multiphase Flow Assurance Innovation Centre (FACE) - Centre for Research-Based Innovation (CRI) application 2006-2014

An increasing fraction of hydrocarbon reserves are difficult or impossible to produce and process today mainly due to the complexity of the fluids. Production of these reserves will require new and innovative technologies. FACE will develop the knowledge base for the new predictive tools that will be essential in order to develop the new, innovative production solutions. It is expected that new SMB's will be generated based on knowledge and technology from the centre as well as development of new or improved products in existing companies.

The research is focused on transport and separation aspects of three thematic topics, i.e. heavy crude oils, dispersed systems (emulsions), and solid particulate suspensions (hydrates, wax, sand and fines). Fluid characterization is a central tool to describe complex fluids within the three thematic topics and a necessary input to hydrodynamic modeling.

We will use existing laboratories to perform both small-scale and high-pressure, large-scale flow experiments in pipes and separators. These experiments will be accompanied by multidimensional model development and their verification.

 

Participants:
Ugelstad Laboratory
SINTEF
Institute for Energy Technology (IFE)
University of Oslo

Principal Investigator:
• Prof. J. Sjöblom

Researchers:
• Sebastien Simon
• Serkan Kelesoglu

Ph.D. Student:
• Mehdi Benmekhbi

 

Produced Water Management – Fundamental Understanding of the Fluids (2010-2014)

Good practical expertise in PW management exits among the oil and gas producers and in the related vendor industry. However, most of the expertise has been gained through trial-and-error approaches to solve field specific problems. There is a clear lack of fundamental understanding on the microscopic and molecular level with respect to the mechanisms that govern separation efficiency of dispersed components and the injectivity of the PW fluids.

The overall objective in this project is to provide a tool for industrial companies involved in PW management in terms of fundamental knowledge of interaction properties between dispersed components (oil/solids/gas) present in PW streams.

 

Participants:
Ugelstad Laboratory, NTNU

ConocoPhillips Inc.
Statoil
Total
ENI
Schlumberger Norge AS Division M-I EPCON
 

Principal Investigator:
• Prof. Gisle Øye
 

Personell:
• Mona Eftekhardadkhan
• Dr. Bartlomiej Gawel

 

Shut-in and Restart of Waxy Crude Pipelines: Software Module Development (2010-2013)

Waxy oil is commonly found on the Norwegian Continental Shelf and elsewhere. Production through sub-sea pipelines must at times be stopped, and these fluids will then tend to form a gel-like structure. It is thus essential to design and operate the pipeline such that restart is possible. It has been observed that when the inlet pressure is increased it can take days for the gel to start moving. No model can accurately predict this process, and it is recognized in the industry that this is a gap in their design tools. In order to address this, a major project is jointly initiated by the Ugelstad Laboratory at NTNU and IFE at Kjeller. They are internationally leading centers on properties of complex fluids and on multiphase pipeline transport, respectively. Detailed rheological measurements will be done on gelled oil properties and on the removal of gelled oil from a pipeline. A model will be developed to encapsulate a physical understanding of the gel-breakage process into a simulation tool. It will account for chemicals injected to reduce wax formation, and thus enable optimal use of these. This model will finally be condensed to a useful tool for engineers designing production pipelines. It will fit with the industry standard simulation tool for transport of gas, oil and water in pipelines. The primary objective is to develop a software module which enables hydrodynamic predictions of shut-in and restart processes in multiphase petroleum pipelines with waxy oil. An additional focus of the project will be to develop new chemical additives, including pour point depressants, yield point depressants, and wax dispersants, for use in gelled pipeline restart applications.

 

Participants:
Ugelstad Laboratory
Institute for Energy Technology (IFE)
• NALCO Champion
Statoil
BASF
Petronas
Petrobras

Principal Investigator:
• Dr. Kristofer Paso

Researcher:
• Dr. Brian A. Grimes

 

Materials/Nanotechnology Related Projects

Interfaces as 2D Folding Templates for Polypeptides 2009-2013

Interaction of dissolved proteins with nanomaterials and interfaces is essential for a wide range of applications, ranging from reduction of biofouling via biosensing and enzymatic catalysis to targeted intracellular drug delivery. An understanding of the underlying mechanisms and adsorption kinetics is therefore crucial to the design of new smart materials which can be used to control protein deposition and delivery. Protein-surface and protein-protein interactions are determined by chemical and physical factors such as electrostatic forces, curvature, hydrophobic interactions and steric constraints. This in turn leaves an abundance of possibilities for manipulation of these surfaces, enabling interaction studies with biological membrane mimics and various delivery vehicles (e.g., Au nanoparticles, liposomes).

Emergent membrane-affecting properties of BSA-gold nanoparticle constructs. Illustration.

 

Gold nanoparticles possess unique optical and surface properties and represent promising materials as e.g. drug delivery vectors, biomarkers and folding templates for proteins. The conformation of the protein dictates protein function and interaction with interfaces, and as such manipulation of the protein-fold might invoke emergent properties useful for improved understanding and potential treatment of protein misfolding diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Adsorption of bovine serum albumin (BSA) onto gold nanoparticles (Aunps) results in partial unfolding of the protein. The resulting BSA–Aunp constructs induce miscibility with phospholipid monolayer films, a trait not seen for BSA or Aunps alone, as well as disruption of liquid crystalline domains in the film. These protein-Aunp constructs might improve interaction with cell membranes and hence intracellular delivery.

Participants:
Ugelstad Laboratory, NTNU
Dept. of Biomedicine, UiB
Dept. of Chemistry, F&M College
Dept. of Chem. Eng, Osaka Prefecture University

Principal Investigator:
• Dr. Wilhelm R. Glomm

Ph.D. student:
• Sina Maria Lystvet