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Asphaltene-laden interfaces form soft glassy layers in contraction experiments: A mechanism for coalescence blocking


In previous studies, the adsorption kinetics of asphaltenes at the water-oil interface were interpreted utilizing a Langmuir equation of state (EOS) based on droplet expansion experiments.1-3 Long-term adsorption kinetics followed random sequential adsorption (RSA) theory predictions, asymptotically reaching ∼85% limiting surface coverage, which is similar to limiting random 2D close packing of disks. To extend this work beyond this slow adsorption process, we performed rapid contractions and contraction-expansions of asphaltene-laden interfaces using the pendant drop experiment to emulate a Langmuir trough. This simulates the rapid increase in interfacial asphaltene concentration that occurs during coalescence events. For the contraction of droplets aged in asphaltene solutions, deviation from the EOS consistently occurs at a surface pressure value ∼21 mN/m corresponding to a surface coverage ∼80%. At this point droplets lose the shape required for validity of the Laplace-Young equation, indicating solidlike surface behavior. On further contraction wrinkles appear, which disappear when the droplet is held at constant volume. Surface pressure also decreases down to an equilibrium value near that measured for slow adsorption experiments. This behavior appears to be due to a transition to a glassy interface on contraction past the packing limit, followed by relaxation toward equilibrium by desorption at constant volume. This hypothesis is supported by cycling experiments around the close-packed limit where the transition to and from a solidlike state appears to be both fast and reversible, with little hysteresis. Also, the soft glass rheology model of Sollich is shown to capture previously reported shear behavior during adsorption. The results suggest that the mechanism by which asphaltenes stabilize water-in-oil emulsions is by blocking coalescence due to rapid formation of a glassy interface, in turn caused by interfacial asphaltenes rapidly increasing in concentration beyond the glass transition point.


Academic article




  • Vincent Pauchard
  • Jayant P. Rane
  • Sanjoy Banjeree


  • SINTEF Industry / Process Technology
  • Diverse norske bedrifter og organisasjoner
  • City University of New York-City College



Published in









12795 - 12803

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