Institute for Oil Sands Innovation (IOSI)

Probing Asphaltene Aggregation and Small Molecule Access with Fluorescent Probes

Simply put, asphaltenes are the heavy component of the crude. Its high viscosity leads to costly transportation and its propensity to aggregate causes clogging of pipes and difficulties for further processing. In order to de-assemble the asphaltene aggregates, their chemical properties and the accessibility of small molecules to their interiors have to be known. We will employ a suite of fluorescence probes that, when added to the asphaltene aggregates, will be located in different environments. In order to find critical conditions for which de-assembly of the aggregate is facilitated, changes in the aggregation behaviour will be investigated when the concentration of asphaltene, the property of the solvent and the temperature are altered . We will employ quenching studies of the florescence probes to measure the accessibility of small molecules, such as gases and small organic reagents, to the interior of the aggregate. This information is essential to establish the extent by which chemical transformations, such as catalytic hydrogenation, are possible in asphaltenes.

Principal Investigator: Cornelia Bohne
Research Team: Hui Ting Zhang, Rui Li, Zi Xin Yang

Project Number: COSI 2008-02
Close Date: August 31, 2010

Asphaltene group in the Bohne research group by the single photon counter: Zi Xin (Jason) Yang, Cornelia Bohne, Rui (Efiie) Li and HuiTing (Yiyi) Zhang.

Cornelia Bohne
University of Victoria