Innovative programmes for the petrochemical industry

Emulsion breakers to provide fast oil/water separation.

In petrochemical processes the effective separation of hydrocarbons from process water is an essential precondition for a trouble-free operation. The emulsification of hydrocarbons and water is a common problem. Emulsions can be classified as oil-in-water and water-in-oil types. Emulsions may cause fouling and under deposit corrosion problems in distillation columns, heat exchangers and reboilers. Separated water often still contains higher amounts of hydrocarbons, which are dispersed in the aqueous phase. In case of poor phase separation sporadic loss of water can be observed.

Chemical treatment programs significantly help to improve the separation process. The chemicals used are termed emulsion breakers, demulsifiers or wetting agents. They are surfactants, which migrate to the oil/water interface.  They adsorb on the oil films surrounding water droplets and break the oil films. Then water droplets aggregate to form water drops large enough to gravitationally separate them from the oil. Kurita’s emulsion breaker programmes provide a fast separation of the oil and water phases. This avoids an undesired carryover of oil and reduces fouling in distillation columns, strippers columns, heat exchangers and steam generators.

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