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Heavy Oil Transportation: Can It Be Made Easier By Magnetism?

1621 words - 6 pages

Introduction
Transportation of heavy crude represents a competitive situation, as it is energy exhaustive and capital intensive. Due to low API gravity (20° to 10°) and high viscosity (200 to 10,000 CP), the flow of oil through pipelines is very difficult. According to Chevron – Phillips, the heaviness of crude oil is due to large proportion of high molecular weight non paraffinic compounds and less percentage of paraffin. Geological origin of heavy crude oil is at the shallower depths and is the result of improper degradation of kerogen via thermal gradient. The lighter parts of immature kerogen undergo biodegradation by bacterial activities. Poor sealing of reservoir further results in the contamination of heavy oil with organic life (bacteria, etc.) and inorganic substances (iron, vanadium, nickel, etc.). There are two main types of heavy crude oil
1. High sulphur crudes contains more than 1% sulphur along with aromatic, paraffinic and asphaltic compounds and is found mostly in Alberta, Saskatchewan, California, Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, and Kuwait.
2. The composition of low sulphur crude is characterized by less than 1% sulphur with resin, aromatic, and naphthenic composition
According to the report submitted by U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in 2011, 270 billion barrels of heavy crude is estimated in Orinoco Belt in Venezuela. It is the world’s largest heavy oil reserve having high viscosity range (1000 to 5000 CP) and 4.5% sulphur along with vanadium and nickel as the contaminants. In order to transport the oil from Orinoco belt through pipeline, some external driving force is required such as adding diluent at regular distances, heating, inverse emulsion injection, or dilution with gas at higher pressures. Recently, the team of researchers under Rongjia Tao, a physicist at Tempwhele University in Philadelphia, has found an alternative way to transport heavy crude by applying electric and magnetic impulses. They have found that lighter suspension contaminants can be aggregated into heavier particles by applying strong electric and magnetic field for short period of time. Magnetic and electric impulses are used to club paraffinic and asphaltic particles respectively.

In this paper we are going to propose an economical way for transporting heavy oil by setting magnetic impulse amplifiers inside the pipeline which would re – amplify the magnetic impulses and help in aggregation of lighter suspension particles into heavier ones. Once the lighter particles collaborate to form heavier particles, the viscosity of heavy crude is reduced for longer period which provides ease in the transportation.
Theoretical Approach
The rheology of heavy crude in Venezuela is same as that of shear thickening fluids, which means its viscosity increases with the increase in rate of shear strain. Being a non – Newtonian fluid, its rheological properties also depend on the particle size, shape, distribution, interaction, phase viscosity...

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