The most important objective of any oil production facility is the separation of water from produced crude. The quick and efficient breaking of these emulsions is essential to meet tight downstream crude oil specifications. In general, crude oil is produced as a water-in-oil emulsion and demulsifiers are necessary for breaking such emulsions.
The factors involved in treating emulsions include breaking the film surrounding the small water droplets and coalescing the droplets to produce larger drops. Finally, the water drops settle during or after their coalescence
Demulsifiers can also perform the functions of a free water knockout, an electrostatic treater, a coalescer, a desalter, and a heater treater. Produced gas is taken out of the liquid and discharged at the top of the vessel.
The vessel is divided into two sections. In the first section the free water can be knocked out using coalescer plates. A Coalescer is a device that allows the discontinuous phase of a liquid to attach itself and thus be separated out.
If there is very little free water and a tight emulsion the coalescer plates on the entrance to the vessel can be replaced with heater tubes to heat the liquid.
EN-FAB, Inc. Demulsifier
In the inner section of the vessel there is an electrostatic probe that charges the liquid, which causes the water to separate itself from the oil more rapidly, and since in this section the liquid is moving downward, the water drops out more easily. A water wash can be added to this section to reduce the salt concentration.
In the discharge section coalescer plates are used to continue to remove any water left in the oil. It is less expensive than grids on the electrostatic section. Each application requires customized design.
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