A new sulfonate surfactant from non-edible vegetable oils is developed. The sulfonate surfactant was synthesized from C16-18 fatty acid and evaluated for stability, Interfacial Tension (IFT) and core flooding experiments for its capability to enhance oil recovery. The feedstock is composed mostly of unsaturated fatty acid derived from jatropha curcas oil which can be converted to fatty acid methyl ester. The methyl ester is epoxidized and hydrolyzed to hydroxyl groups, which subsequently were sulfonated to form a product named Methyl Ester Sulfonates (MES).
The performance of the synthesized surfactant was studied for its stability, IFT and core flooding experiments. The stability shows that surfactant solution in produced water is clear and free of precipitation. Based on IFT experiments optimum surfactant concentration is 1 wt% which resulted in a lowest possible IFT of 0.19 mN/m in the presence of Na2CO3 as alkali.
By conducting a displacement test, an improvement in oil recovery is observed. Surfactant floods perform to test how effectively a surfactant formulation can recover oil on tertiary oil recovery. The results confirmed that there is a possibility of developing new surfactants from vegetable oils. It can obviate the need for using petrochemicals substances in synthesizing surfactants.