ASTM Test Method Helps Reduce Problem of Asphaltenes in Oil Production

  • January 13, 2016
  • News

January 13, 2016—A new ASTM International standard will help to more quickly and accurately detect for contaminants called asphaltenes in a variety of petroleum products. The new standard (soon to be published as D7996, Test Method for Measuring Visible Spectrum of Asphaltenes in Heavy Fuel Oils and Crude Oils by Spectroscopy in a Microfluidic Platform) will thus improve efficiency in producing crude and heavy fuel oils. D7996 is ASTM’s first microfluidic-related standard.

According to ASTM member Farshid Mostowfi, Ph.D., asphaltene deposits in the oil production process cost the industry billions of dollars annually. “The asphaltene problem exists deep in reservoirs, along transportation networks, in refineries and all the way in fuel systems,” says Mostowfi, a principal scientist and program manager at Schlumberger. “Therefore, monitoring asphaltenes and their variations is paramount to avoiding expensive remedial operations

Measuring asphaltene deposits has traditionally required bulky glassware, well-ventilated laboratory environments and skilled operators. These techniques take up to two days to perform.

The new test method takes less time and provides increased precision. In addition, the test requires smaller sample and solvent volumes, leading to a smaller environment footprint. Using the standard to monitor asphaltenes throughout the life cycle of a fuel could reduce remediation costs and improve efficiency.

The new standard will cover gas oil, diesel fuel, fuel oils, residual fuel oils, lubricating oil, and bitumen, as well as crude oil that uses microfluidics and spectrographic techniques.

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