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Title: The development of microfluidic and surface enhanced Raman methods for petroleum analysis : asphaltene and naphthenic acids
Author: Alabi, Oluwarotimi Ocilama
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 0907
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2015
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Microfluidic H-cells and surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy are capable of analysing the asphaltene content of petroleum. An H-cell is a microfluidic device that exploits the non-turbulent flow of fluids within a micrometre-dimensioned channel. Diffusive separation in an H-cell permits a liquid that is miscible with the sample matrix to be used as an extractant. It was demonstrated that n-hexane can be used as extractant to obtain an asphaltene-free fraction of oil. The difference between the UV-Vis adsorption spectra of the asphaltene-free oil and the oil sample can then be used to estimate its asphaltene content. This has been demonstrated for a range of oils with asphaltene content between 1-30% and API gravity values between 40-10°, thus liquid petroleum and bitumen can be rapidly assayed by an H-cell; similarly, asphaltene and carboxylic acid content of oil can be determined simultaneously when methanol is used as extractant. The results were shown to be comparable to assays achieved via the ASTM D4124 and ASTM D974 methods respectively. For the first time it was demonstrated that surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy, using a gold substrate and illumination at 514 nm, can detect extremely low concentrations of asphaltene. This was shown to be achievable for asphaltene and related materials at concentrations of 0.001 ppm. In addition, data also demonstrated that the core of the Raman-responsive units within asphaltene have crystallite sizes equivalent to the Raman-responsive units in kerogen (~3 nm). Both methods provide technological advances because they make it possible to detect asphaltene in small sample volumes, using smaller footprint instrumentation. The H-cell method would be extremely useful for appraising oilfield potential, record the attenuation of oil-spills and provide frequent geochemical data that can monitor these at point of need. Similarly, the SERS technique widens the field of application into areas previously inaccessible to current techniques such as the effect of low concentrations of asphaltene-like materials in ecological and living systems.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Aberdeen ; College of Physical Sciences
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Raman effect ; Asphaltene ; Microfluidics ; Petroleum