Friday, September 08, 2006

A Few Hours Of Thinness For Crude Oil

Offshore oil producers long have dreamed of the technological equivalent of a magic wand: Wave it over pipelines carrying the thick crude oil produced in much of the world, and the oil thins out for just a few hours.

This would allow it to be pumped more easily and economically through pipelines to onshore storage tanks where it would then return to its natural viscous condition.

Rongina Tao and Xiaojun Xu now report development of one such method for reducing the viscosity (thickness) of crude oil.

The method uses a magnetic field to make tiny wax-like particles in paraffin-base crude oil clump together into a smaller number of large particles; an electric field is used to aggregate tiny asphaltene particles in asphalt-base crude oil into large ones. That clumping reduces oil's viscosity for a few hours


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