Asphaltenes have been fractionated by liquid/liquid extraction, yielding four subfractions. The characteristics of fractionated asphaltenes were studied with respect to solubility, aromaticity, heteroatom content, and diffusion behavior. It was observed that asphaltenes from the four subfractions showed variations in their tendency to flocculate and also distinct differences in aromaticity. Furthermore, NMR self-diffusion studies showed that the average diffusion coefficients varied for asphaltenes from the different subfractions. The results suggest a variation in average size and stability between asphaltenes, depending on what subfraction they belong to. The subfraction that consisted of asphaltenes with the largest average size and the highest aromaticity was also found to contain the asphaltenes that had the strongest tendency to flocculate.
- Size and aromaticity