Experimental and numerical studies on production scheme to improve energy efficiency of bitumen production through insitu oil-in-water (O/W) emulsion

Olalekan S. Alade*, Mohamed Mahmoud, Dhafer Al Shehri, Esmail M.A. Mokheimer, Kyuro Sasaki, Ryo Ohashi, Muhammad Shahzad Kamal, Isah Muhammad, Ayman Al-Nakhli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Emulsification involving dispersion of bitumen droplets in a continuous aqueous phase (as oil-in-water (O/W) emulsion), is an efficient method of reducing the viscosity. The objective of this research is to harness the potential of insitu emulsification for production of bitumen to improve energy efficiency. Thus, O/W emulsion was prepared using poly vinyl alcohol (PVA) surfactant (with NaOH and ethanol additivities) at different ratios of bitumen: PVA solution viz. 70:30 (RX1), 55:45 (RX2), 40:60 (RX3). The data was incorporated in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis to obtain emulsification reaction parameters at different temperatures (30–150 °C). Subsequently, numerical simulation considering insitu formation of O/W emulsion was performed at different injection temperatures (50, 100, and 150 °C). The results were compared with those of conventional steam injection at 215 °C. Significant viscosity reduction of bitumen was obtained from emulsification experiments. From numerical simulation, the proposed method resulted in higher oil: steam ratio (OSR) compared with steam injection method. Ultimately, with reference to steam injection (thermal efficiency, ΔEeff = 0.02 m3/GJ; net bitumen production = 692 m3), the most promising operation is the production from RX3, at 150 °C, with thermal efficiency, ΔEeff = 0.04 m3/GJ, and 649 m3 net bitumen production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122700
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Bitumen production
  • High viscosity
  • Insitu emulsion
  • Poly vinyl alcohol (PVA)
  • Thermal efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Pollution
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • General Energy
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Building and Construction
  • Fuel Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation


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