Drag reduction in turbulent pipeline flow of mixed nonionic polymer and cationic surfactant systems



Turbulent drag reduction behaviour of a mixed nonionic polymer/cationic surfactant system was studied in a pipeline flow loop to explore the synergistic effects of polymeric and surfactant drag reducing additives. The nonionic polymer used was polyethylene oxide (PEO) at three different concentrations (500, 1000, and 2000 ppm). The surfactant used was cationic octadecyltrimethylammonium chloride (OTAC) at concentration levels of 1000 and 2500 ppm. Sodium salicylate (NaSal) was used as a counter-ion for the surfactant at a molar ratio of 2 (MR = Salt/OTAC = 2).

Relative viscosity and surface tension were measured for different combinations of PEO and OTAC. While the relative viscosities demonstrated a week interaction between the polymer and the surfactant, the surface tension measurements exhibited negligible interaction.

The pipeline results show a considerable synergistic effect, that is, the mixed polymer–surfactant system gives a significantly higher drag reduction (lower friction factors) as compared with pure polymer or pure surfactant. The addition of surfactant to the polymer always enhances drag reduction. However, the synergistic effect in mixed system is stronger at low polymer concentrations and high surfactant concentrations. © 2011 Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering