Designing Chemical Treatments for Mineral Scale Using Microfluidics



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Mineral scale is a major production challenge for upstream oil and gas processes. Over time, the formation of inorganic precipitates hinders flow capacity by obstructing equipment. Treating and preventing these deposits is extremely expensive and time consuming. Barite, the most insoluble component of scale, needs more efficient treatments. Several organic molecules are used commercially as scale inhibitors. Barite inhibitors may bind to barium ions in solution to prevent further incorporation into active sites, while others may adsorb onto specific crystal surfaces and hinder or arrest crystal growth. The ultimate goal is to design more efficient chemical treatments exhibiting enhanced inhibition and dissolution of barite in a dynamic setting. These experiments reveal additive and synergistic effects on inhibition and dissolution of barite using a combination of modifiers. I conducted bulk crystallization assays with several commercial and environmentally friendly scale inhibitors in individual and binary studies to observe the effect on binding specificity through changes in aspect ratio. Inhibition and dissolution kinetics were investigated using a microfluidic platform designed for rapid parametric screening of potential modifiers. Real time images were captured using an optical microscope to quantify growth kinetics and analyzed. Binary inhibitor combinations with synergistic cooperativity showed enhanced inhibition and dissolution properties. However, their combined effect on the environment is unknown. An ecosystem’s exposure to these chemicals can disturb the stability and organisms.