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Effect of cationic surfactant addition on the drag reduction behaviour of anionic polymer solutions



Although extensive research work has been carried out on the drag reduction (DR) behaviour of polymers and surfactants alone, little progress has been made on the synergistic effects of combined polymers and surfactants. In this work, the interactions between drag-reducing anionic polymer (copolymer of acrylamide and sodium acrylate, referred to as PAM) and drag-reducing cationic surfactant (octadecyltrimethylammonium chloride, OTAC) are studied. Solutions are prepared using both deionised (DI) water and tap water. The measurement of the physical properties such as electrical conductivity and viscosity are used to determine the surfactant–polymer interactions.

The addition of surfactant to the polymer solution has a significant effect on the properties of the system. The critical micelle concentration (CMC) of the mixed surfactant–polymer system is found to be different from that of the surfactant alone. With the addition of surfactant to a polymer solution, a substantial decrease in the viscosity occurs. The observed changes in the viscosity of mixed polymer–surfactant system are explained in terms of the changes in the extension of polymeric chains, resulting from polymer–surfactant interactions. The anionic PAM chains tend to collapse upon the addition of cationic OTAC.

The pipeline flow behaviour of PAM/OTAC mixtures is found to be consistent with the bench scale results. The DR ability of PAM is reduced upon the addition of OTAC. At low concentrations of PAM, the effect of OTAC on the DR behaviour is more pronounced. The DR behaviour of polymer solutions is strongly influenced by the nature of water (DI or tap). © 2011 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering