Conjoint water and oil flow during petroleum production operations in oil reservoirs is frequently accompanied by emulsion co-production at the surface, affecting well productivity, artificial lift and separation process, depending on emulsion’s morphology. Flow conditions responsible for generation of emulsions present at the surface are uncertain. The work being developed in our group focus on emulsion formation inside the porous space of a reservoir as well as in the two-phase turbulent flow through pipes and valves. The goal is to visualize the break-up mechanisms, determine the critical conditions for emulsion formation and the characteristics of the emulsion formed in each situation.
The formation of emulsions in the flow through pipes, valves and pumps is studied by characterizing the emulsion morphology at different points of the flow and by visualizing with high speed imaging the flow of oil drops dispersed in water through constrictions.
The work is now being extended to study stabilization of oil-water interfaces by nanoparticles and the formation and stability of Pickering emulsions.