Investigations of crude-oil emulsions at the micro-to-nano scales

Florent Ravaux, Sandra Constanza Medina, Ali Reza Behzad, Humaira Zafar, Abraham George, Stephane Morin, NorEddine Ghaffour, Dalaver H. Anjum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The removal of the micro droplets of emulsified water from crude oil causes high cost and energy. In this paper we show that cryo electron microscopy (cryo-EM) imaging of micro and nano emulsions prepared from United Arab Emirate based crude oil provides critical information on their stability. Specifically, the cryoSEM imaging analysis applied to emulsion of murban-2019, and upper zakum-2019 crude-oils allowed determining naturally occurring surfactants in these crude-oils. Moreover, the applied method also turned out to be an efficient way to qualitatively investigate the effect of synthetic surfactant on the stability of the emulsions. The high resolution cryoTEM imaging analysis of emulsions from upper zakum-2019 sample enabled visualizing “bilayer” of naturally occurring surfactants, presumably the asphaltene. The cryoTEM analysis further allowed estimating the volume-fraction of emulsified water in the crude-oil at nanoscales and turned out to be about 1% for the upper zakum-2019 samples.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122692
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-01-27
Acknowledgements: The authors extend their appreciation to Khalifa University’s Faculty Startup (FSU) program for partially funding this research work under the project ID: FSU-2020-04, 2020 and to Abu Dhabi, and to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the use of cryo-EM equipment.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Fuel Technology


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