Three dimensional measurements of asphaltene deposition in a transparent micro-channel
This study describes a novel experimental approach to directly measure the thicknesses of asphaltene deposits in micro-channels. The thickness of the asphaltene deposit is estimated using a visualization technique based on 3D digital microscopy. The working fluid is a mixture of n-heptane and dead oil. Induced by the addition of n-heptane, the asphaltenes present in crude oil phase separate at ambient temperature to form aggregates of asphaltene-rich phase. Part of the asphaltene aggregates deposit on the walls of the transparent micro-channel. A two-dimensional profile of the deposit across the channel at selected axial sections is measured. The influences of injection mixture volume on the growth of the thickness of deposited asphaltenes is investigated using two experimental conditions, (i) varying elapsed time at constant flow rate and (ii) increasing the flow rate at a constant elapsed time. In both cases the deposit thickness of asphaltene (δ) increases with the total injection volume (V). The experimental results obtained in this work provide new insights into the deposition process at the micro-scale level, which can be used to facilitate the development of more accurate numerical model for this application.