PDEA-Based Amphiphilic Polymer Enables pH-Responsive Emulsions for a Rapid Demulsification

Hou, Qingfeng (Key Laboratory of Oilfield Chemistry, Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development, CNPC) | Zheng, Xiaobo (Key Laboratory of Oilfield Chemistry, Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development, CNPC) | Guo, Donghong (Key Laboratory of Oilfield Chemistry, Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development, CNPC) | Zhu, Youyi (Key Laboratory of EOR, Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development, CNPC) | Yang, Hui (Key Laboratory of Colloid, Interface and Chemical Thermodynamics, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences) | Xu, Xingguang (Energy Business Unit, Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organization) | Wang, Yuanyuan (Key Laboratory of Oilfield Chemistry, Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development, CNPC) | Chen, Gang (Key Laboratory of Colloid, Interface and Chemical Thermodynamics, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences) | Hu, Guangxin (Key Laboratory of Colloid, Interface and Chemical Thermodynamics, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences) | Wang, Jinben (Key Laboratory of Colloid, Interface and Chemical Thermodynamics, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

OnePetro 

Abstract

Stimuli-responsive emulsions have attracted much attention in diverse fields. However, research on the rapid and effective demulsification based on pH-responsive emulsions has barely been reported, although they are viewed as promising canditates for oil-water separation processes after oil recovery. In the present work, we have successfully synthesized a series of pH-responsive emulsions on the basis of a novel polymer containing amphiphilic and protonated moieties. The properties of these pH-responsive emulsions including stability, morphology microscopy, Zeta potential, and interfacial tension have been extensively investigated. We observed that the prepared oil-in-water emulsion could stay stable for more than 24 h within the pH range of 8-10, while it lost 80-90% of the water in 10-20 min if the pH was adjusted to 2-4. The variation in emulsion stability can be attributed to the protonation of poly [2-(N, N-diethylamino) ethyl methacrylate] (PDEA) residues at low pH values. Accordingly the polymers intend to become more hydrophilic and depart from the oil-water interface, leading to an increased interfacial tension. Furthermore, it was found that the applied polymers aggregated at the oil-water interface and that the morphology of aggregations was strongly affected by the pH values. These proposed polymers enabled the formation of emulsion with a controllable response to the pH stimuli. This work is expected to shed light on the development of stimuli-responsive emulsions and may have significant implications in the fields of oil recovery, waste water treatment, and so forth. For example, due to the high w/o interface activity of surfactants such as heavy alkyl benzene sulfonate (HABS) and petroleum sulfonate, severe emulsion has also been found with the alkali-surfactant-polymer (ASP) produced fluid. Currently, rapid breaking of these emulsion fluid is still a big challenge.