Carbon dioxide and water emulsion stability and rheology with nonionic hydrocarbon surfactants or particles
Adkins, Stephanie Sue
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For the first time the interfacial properties of nonionic hydrocarbon surfactants at both the air-water and CO₂-water interfaces are investigated in terms of surfactant structure to determine the changes in surfactant efficiency (negative of the logarithm of the surfactant concentration to create a surface pressure of 20 mN/m). At the air-water interface, linear surfactant tails are more efficient due to the higher packing ability of the straight chains in the dense surfactant monolayer. However, at the CO₂-water interface, surfactant adsorption is small and tails can be solvated. Thus, branching which increases both tail solvation and tail hydrophobicity also enlarges the hard disk area of the surfactant to ultimately increase the efficiency of the surfactant at the CO₂-water interface. CO₂-in-water concentrated emulsions (foams) are studied over short and long times to evaluate the foam stability as a function of both surfactant structure and foam conditions using in-situ optical microscopy. The surface pressure measured at the CO₂- water interface is correlated with the short time stability of coalescing foams with very small cell sizes (under 0.4 [mu]m in diameter). Long time stability of bubbles to coalescence is shown under a variety of conditions. The rheology of these bulk CO₂-in-water foams under high-pressure conditions are also evaluated through measurements of the pressure drop over a capillary tube. Viscosities in excess of 200 cP are measured, an increase of over 1000 time that of pure CO₂ (0.09 cP at 24 °C and 2000 psia). The viscosity of the C/W foams are found to correlate with bubble size, continuous phase viscosity, shear rate, and interfacial tension. Hydrophobic silica particles adsorbed at the interface are also used to stabilize water-in-CO₂ emulsions as an alternative to surfactant stabilizers. The difficulties of tail solvation associated with many hydrocarbon surfactants in CO₂ can be removed by using particles instead of surfactant. A porous cross-linked shell is formed about the hydrophilic (colloidal and fumed) silica to render the particles CO₂-philic and the crosslinking removes ligand tails from the particle surface.