• emulsion;
  • metastable boundary;
  • hydrate;
  • methane;
  • film


A stepwise pressurization method was proposed for determining the metastable boundary conditions of water-in-oil emulsions in the hydrate formation region. The metastable boundary pressures of four water-in-n-octane emulsions in the presence of methane gas were determined at four specified temperatures. The experimental results show that the metastable boundary pressures increase with decreasing water droplet sizes. A thermodynamic model was developed for calculating the metastable boundary conditions of a water-in-oil emulsion in which assuming that the collapse of a metastable emulsion requires the formation of a stable hydrate film with a critical thickness on the surfaces of water droplets. The model was used to correlate the experimental data and determine the critical thickness of the hydrate film. It was demonstrated that the calculated results were in good agreement with the experimental data. The determined critical thickness is at nanoscale, ranging from 14 to 40 nm, which decreases with decreasing water droplet sizes. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 2012