Get access

High-throughput packed-bed microreactors with in-line analytics for the discovery of asphaltene deposition mechanisms



Understanding asphaltene nanoaggregation kinetics is a key to predicting the deposition in pure quartz-grain porous media. High-throughput quartz packed-bed microreactors (μPBRs) were, therefore, designed to provide mechanistic insights by merging oilfield chemistry and microchemical systems. In-line UV-Vis spectroscopy and pressure transducer were used to characterize the stable packing of quartz particles with porosity of ∼40% and permeability of ∼5.5 × 10−13 m2. Temperature (25.0–90.0°C), n-heptane composition (50.0–80.0 vol %), and n-alkane (n-C5 to n-C9) were all observed to influence asphaltenes deposition in the porous media, and reduced dispersion was obtained in the damaged packed-bed by estimating dispersion coefficients and the Bodenstein number. Deposition by mechanical entrapment dominated the mechanism in all scenarios, as discovered by the simplified Kozeny–Carman and Civan's permeability-porosity relationships. The results could aid in the design of remediations that minimize production losses of considerable economic magnitude. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 3534–3546, 2014