The effect of asphaltenes on the gelation of waxy oils

Ramachandran Venkatesan, Jenny Ann Östlund, Hitesh Chawla, Piyarat Wattana, Magnus Nydén, H. Scott Fogler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Citations (Scopus)


The phase stability of crude oil is dependent on a multitude of factors, including temperature, pressure, and component fractions, especially long chain paraffin and polar asphaltene fractions. Paraffins precipitate out of the crude oil during pipeline transportation due to solubility limits, and form paraffin-oil gel deposits on the pipe walls. The presence of asphaltenes in crude oil is postulated to affect the formation of these paraffin gels. To quantify this effect, a controlled stress rheometer was used to study the gelation temperature and the yield stress of a model paraffin-oil system. It was observed that the addition of asphaltenes in small proportions (∼0.1 wt %) resulted in a significant decrease both in the gelation temperature and the yield stress of the model system, indicating that the presence of asphaltenes hinders the gelation mechanism. Addition of higher amounts of asphaltenes resulted in macroscopic phase separation: a deposit consisting of asphaltenes and paraffins separated out of the liquid. The effects of operating conditions and the asphaltene polarity on the gelation process were also studied. Polarized light microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy were used to obtain insights into the rheometric results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1630-1640
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy and Fuels
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


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