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Energies 2017, 10(6), 767; doi:10.3390/en10060767

Modeling and Scaling of the Viscosity of Suspensions of Asphaltene Nanoaggregates

Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada
Academic Editor: Alireza Bahadori
Received: 27 February 2017 / Revised: 14 May 2017 / Accepted: 25 May 2017 / Published: 1 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Oil and Gas Engineering)
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Abstract

The scaling and modeling of the viscosity of suspensions of asphaltene nanoaggregates is carried out successfully taking into consideration the solvation and clustering of nanoaggragates, and the jamming of the suspension at the glass transition volume fraction of asphaltene nanoaggregates. The nanoaggregates of asphaltenes are modeled as solvated disk-shaped “core–shell” particles taking into account the most recent small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), and solid-state 1H NMR studies available on the size and structure of asphaltene nanoaggregates. This work is an extension of our earlier studies on modeling of asphaltene suspensions where solvation of asphaltene nanoaggregates was not considered. A new mathematical model is developed for estimating the aspect ratio (ratio of thickness to diameter of particle) and the corresponding intrinsic viscosity of suspension of solvated disk-shaped asphaltene nanoaggregates using the experimental relative viscosity data of suspensions at low asphaltene concentrations. The solvation of asphaltene nanoaggregates is found to be significant. The intrinsic viscosity increases with the increase in the degree of solvation of nanoaggregates. At high concentrations of asphaltenes, clustering of solvated nanoaggregates dominates resulting in large viscosities. A new scaling law is discovered to scale the viscosity data of different asphaltene suspensions. According to the new scaling law, a unique correlation is obtained, independent of the type of asphaltene system, when the data are plotted as ( η r 1 ) / [ η ] S versus ϕ S where η r is the relative viscosity of suspension, [ η ] S is the intrinsic viscosity of suspension of solvated nanoaggregates, and ϕ S is the volume fraction of solvated nanoaggregates. Twenty sets of experimental viscosity data on asphaltene suspensions gathered from different sources are used to verify and confirm the scaling law and the viscosity model proposed in this work. Based on the experimental data, the glass transition volume fraction of solvated asphaltene nanoaggregates where jamming of suspension, and hence divergence of viscosity, takes place is found to be approximately 0.4. The viscosity model proposed in this work can be used to predict the viscosity of a new asphaltene system over a broad range of asphaltene concentrations provided that the intrinsic viscosity of the suspension is obtained from viscosity measurements at very low asphaltene concentrations. View Full-Text
Keywords: asphaltenes; asphaltene nanoaggregates; viscosity; rheology; heavy oil; crude oil; hydrocarbon asphaltenes; asphaltene nanoaggregates; viscosity; rheology; heavy oil; crude oil; hydrocarbon
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pal, R. Modeling and Scaling of the Viscosity of Suspensions of Asphaltene Nanoaggregates. Energies 2017, 10, 767.

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