Heating/Microwave Heating Technique
Increasing the temperature of the emulsion is commonly used in refining and oilfield industries to enhance emulsion breaking. Heat addition, however, is usually based on the overall economic picture of a treatment facility, minimum heat input is favored to avoid the lost of light end products and to save the consumption of flue gas. Microwave heating emulsification technology is currently used in many chemical plants and has been successfully demonstrated as effective on crude oil/water emulsions. A study utilized a domestic microwave oven to successfully separate synthetic lube oil/water emulsions. From their results, small temperature gradients through the body of irradiated emulsion proved that viscous water-in-oil emulsions are heated more quickly and uniformly by microwaves than by conventional convective heating, providing a faster water-oil separation. Operation of microwave energy at industrial scale is already proven possible. However, the energy consumption, has to be minimized to be economically feasible.