Bio-compatible Anti-Agglomerants


In deep water another management strategy involves allowing gas hydrates to form and co-injecting so-called anti-agglomerant (AA) chemicals to prevent hydrate particles from aggregating or depositing on the pipeline wall. However, the toxicity standards placed on these AA chemicals, which are largely based on ionic surfactants, is an obstacle to their wider use. Recently, examples of hydrate non-plugging oils (so called ‘magic oils’) have been found, which contain naturally-occurring, non-toxic surfactants that eliminate the interactive potential between hydrate particles. The adsorption of specific chemicals onto the hydrate surface can now be quantified in specialised experiments conducted on UWA’s recently commissioned micromechanical force (MMF) apparatus, which could help identify the hydrate-philic fractions within non-plugging oils. The PhD student working on this project would use the MMF to quantify and rank the adsorption potential of non-ionic, biocompatible surfactants on the hydrate surface. The selection of these surfactants would be guided by previous screening work on non-plugging oils. The anti-agglomerant performance of these bio-compatible surfactants would then be studied directly by a high-pressure visual (sapphire) autoclave, which yields information on (i) hydrate growth rate, (ii) resistance-to-flow, and (iii) visual confirmation of hydrate deposition. This research will produce a new generation of hydrate management chemicals, with low toxicity, which enable significantly longer tiebacks in deep water.

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