Rheology of asphaltene-toluene/water interfaces

Langmuir. 2005 Dec 6;21(25):11651-8. doi: 10.1021/la051921w.


The stability of water-in-crude oil emulsions is frequently attributed to a rigid asphaltene film at the water/oil interface. The rheological properties of these films and their relationship to emulsion stability are ill defined. In this study, the interfacial tension, elastic modulus, and viscous modulus were measured using a drop shape analyzer for model oils consisting of asphaltenes dissolved in toluene for concentrations varying from 0.002 to 20 kg/m(3). The effects of oscillation frequency, asphaltene concentration, and interface aging time were examined. The films exhibited viscoelastic behavior. The total modulus increased as the interface aged at all asphaltene concentrations. An attempt was made to model the rheology for the full range of asphaltene concentration. The instantaneous elasticity was modeled with a surface equation of state (SEOS), and the elastic and viscous moduli, with the Lucassen-van den Tempel (LVDT) model. It was found that only the early-time data could be modeled using the SEOS-LVDT approach; that is, the instantaneous, elastic, and viscous moduli of interfaces aged for at most 10 minutes. At longer interface aging times, the SEOS-LVDT approach was invalid, likely because of irreversible adsorption of asphaltenes on the interface and the formation of a network structure.