Role of self-filtration of emulsions in Water-Oil separation

Proposal for a 2-year Post-Doc (2019-2020)

During oil extraction operations, oil and water are produced in the form of an emulsion which need to be separated in order to export the crude oil. For this, wash tanks are used with gravity and coalescence being the driving motors. Under normal operational conditions coalescence occurs in a portion of the wash tank where the emulsion is in between oil in water and water in oil state, forming the so-called dense-packed zone (DPZ). The DPZ slows down the gravity driven exchange between oil and water, and evolves eventually with time until reaching a steady state.
The main objective of this post-doc position is to understand how this living porous media is formed and what are the control parameters that govern its properties. The work carried out will be mostly experimental. The tasks of the position include :
(1) Designing and setting up an experiment allowing to follow the evolution of the DPZ with time using millifluidics and microfluidics techniques.
(2) Investigating how different process parameters (flow rates, drop sizes, physico-chemical composition of fluids, role of chemical additives) affect the evolution of the DPZ and its efficiency as a separation filter.
(3) Providing experimental parameters for process simulation.

The post-doc position is based in Total’s R&D center in Lacq (France)
Requirements : solid background on experimental soft-matter physics, and in particular in porous media and emulsions. Experience in microfluidics/ millifluidics and good knowledge.

Academic Supervisors : François LEQUEUX - francois.lequeux (arobase),

Industrial Supervisors : E. Santanach - enric.santanach-carreras (arobase) and N. Passade-Boupat

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