Multiple Condensed Phases in the N-Pentane-Tetralin-Bitumen System
- J.S. Billheimer (Aerojet Engineering Corp.) | B.H. Sage (California Institute of Technology) | W.N. Lacey (California Institute of Technology)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 1949
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 283 - 290
- 1949. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
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A restricted ternary system made up of n-pentane, tetralin, and a purifiedbitumen was investigated at 70, 160, and 220?F. Most of the experimentalobservations were at atmospheric pressure or at 200 psi. However, someexperimental measurements were carried out at a pressure of approximately 8000psi.
It was found that the purified bitumen was precipitated from its solution ordispersion in tetralin by the addition of n-pentane and that the separationoccurred at lower weight fractions of n-pentane at the lower temperatures. Thebitumen-tetralin solutions show some colloidal characteristics at temperaturesbelow 160?F when near compositions at which the bitumen separates as a solidphase. At states remote from the phase boundaries and at temperatures above160?F these characteristics become less evident. Under these lattercircumstances the mixtures tend to follow the behavior of true solutions,particularly in regard to the approach to heterogeneous equilibrium. Anincrease in pressure appears to increase the solubility of bitumen intetralin-n-pentane solutions. This effect is more pronounced at temperaturesabove 160?F than at lower temperatures.
Asphaltic phases of plastic or solid nature have appeared in numerous instancesduring the recovery of petroleum from underground reservoirs. Such depositionsoccurring underground appear to have caused adverse production histories forparticular wells or zones. Because of this field experience, it is desirable tounderstand the factors which influence the formation or separation of theasphaltic phases from petroleum. The problem is unusually complex because thenumber of true components involved is very large and the details of the phasebehavior encountered are difficult to ascertain experimentally.
The literature relating to asphalts, asphaltines, and bitumen is voluminous andwidespread. Only those references which are directly pertinent to the work athand are cited. The separation of an asphaltic phase, hereinafter calledbitumen, from naturally occurring hydrocarbon mixtures has been the subject ofseveral investigations. It has been found that as many as four phases may beproduced from a crude oil by the solution of a natural gas and propane at apressure of 1500 psi and a temperature of 70?F. The separation of bitumen fromsuch naturally occurring mixtures results in at least one liquid phase which issubstantially free of high molecular weight components. The influence of thesolution of lighter hydrocarbons on the separation of bitumen from a Santa FeSprings crude oil has been investigated.
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