The paper describes experimental/analytical research aimed at modification of petroleum technologies to "nanotechnologies" by accounting for molecular processes in nanocolloids of native petroleum fluids.
Our results show that in course of traditional technological operations, macroscopic properties of petroleum media (viscosity, density, pour point, etc.) may exhibit abrupt changes caused by currently uncontrolled microscopic phase transitions in nanocolloids. In particular, our experiments provided phase diagrams of petroleum nanocolloids, which show critical parameters, highly unfavorable for industrial processing of petroleum. E.g., petroleum fluids may practically solidify at RT after a short-time residence at the temperature-defined phase boundary of ca. 28–35°C; native crudes of diverse origin exhibit sharp viscosity/density peaking at several composition-defined phase boundaries which are relevant to compatibility problems. Contrary to widespread assumptions, the current properties of petroleum nanocolloids (and, hence, the current properties of petroleum fluids) are not defined solely by current technological parameters. Of equal/decisive importance are the details of a preceding history of reservoir development.
We conclude that proper recovery "nanotechnologies" should be designed and performed with an understanding of importance of the complex nanophase diagrams of petroleum fluids. Such technology should include specifically designed processes (employ specifically selected parameters) to purposely avoid/instigate particular phase transformations in petroleum nanocolloids in order to improve (or, at least, not to ruin) the practically important bulk properties of petroleum. With respect to immediate practical applications, it should be emphasized that the discussed phase diagrams contain only "the most obvious" nanophase boundaries, reflect our current knowledge of structural transformations in petroleum and should be subjected to further investigation.