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Alcohol Ethoxylates for Adjusting Optimum Salinity of Bicontinuous Emulsions Made with Anionic Surfactants

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000179703D
Publication Date: 2009-Feb-23

Publishing Venue

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Abstract

The optimum salt concentration of a charged surfactant-induced bicontinuous phase with oil can be shifted by selecting the appropriate alcohol ethoxylate. The optimum salt concentration can be shifted to higher or lower salt values depending on the non-ionic hydrophilic lipophilic balance (HLB) and non-ionic concentration. Other terms used to describe a bicontinuous phase include Winsor type III emulsion or microemulsion.

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Authors Charles Hammond, Lauren Sheehan

Alcohol Ethoxylates for Adjusting Optimum Salinity of Bicontinuous Emulsions made with Anionic Surfactants

Abstract:

The optimum salt concentration of a charged surfactant-induced bicontinuous phase with oil can be shifted by selecting the appropriate alcohol ethoxylate. The optimum salt concentration can be shifted to higher or lower salt values depending on the non-ionic hydrophilic lipophilic balance (HLB) and non-ionic concentration. Other terms used to describe a bicontinuous phase include Winsor type III emulsion or microemulsion.

Summary:

In conclusion it has been illustrated that when added with anionic surfactants, alcohol ethoxylates can be used to adjust the optimum salinity of a bicontinuous phase system.

1) Both the size of the alkyl group and the amount of EO can shift the optimum salinity
2) The concentration of the non-ionic can shift the optimum salinity
3) Increasing the temperature decreases the optimum salinity

Background:

Microemulsions can be used in tertiary or enhanced oil recovery (EOR), fuels, lubricants, metal working fluids, textile finishing, cosmetics, agrochemicals, food, pharmaceuticals, personal care, metal working fluids, detergency, bioremediation, media synthesis, chemical reactions, material separations and biotechnology. 1,2,3,4

There is interest in determining under what conditions anionic surfactants can induce a microemulsion in an oil and water system.5 This is true in particular for chemical EOR, where there are economic and performance advantages to obtaining the microemulsion. Microemulsion form spontaneously, thus, the extensive mixing or emulsifying usually required to obtain an emulsion is not required. Secondly the middle phase of the microemulsion is related to the interfacial tension through the Chun Huh equation.6,7 The

lowest interfacial tension is desired to maximize the amount of oil that will be recovered.8

Each oil well will have a different salinity associated with it. It is important to be able to tailor the surfactant system to induce the microemulsion at the salt concentration of the water for the application site.

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Microemulsions can be characterized in many ways, including conductivity, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, inter facial tension and visually. 9,10This study employs the pipette method outlined by Bill Wade from The University of Texas.11 Below is a picture illustrating the optimum salinity for 2 mL of a 1.5 wt % ALFOTERRA® 123-4S surfactant (Isalchem® 123 alcohol - 4 PO sulfate, sodium salt from Sasol North America) with 2 mL tetradecane (Aldrich) at room temperature (RT ~20-22°C). Sodium chloride was added in varying concentrations to the Alfoterra/water solution prior to placing into the pipette. The opti...