SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1995

Laboratory Effectiveness Testing of Water-in-Oil Emulsion Breakers


The physics and chemistry of water-in-oil emulsions dominate the development of effectiveness tests. Emulsions are variable in stability ‐ this variability is largely dependent on oil type and degree of weathering. These factors complicate the development of a test. Emulsions which have low stability will apparently break easily with chemical emulsion breakers. Broken emulsions will form a foam-like material, called “rag”, which retains water which is not part of the stable emulsions.

Analytical methods used to determine the final stability of the broken or unbroken emulsion were evaluated. Measurements of water content and viscosity measurements show correlation to emulsion stability. Viscosity provides a more reliable measure of emulsion stability but water content measurements are more convenient and are largely used in this study.

Twelve tests were developed in the past. Two testing methods have been developed to a usable stage. These tests are described and data using them provided. The effects of mixing time, agent amount, settling time and mixing energy on effectiveness results are presented.

Author Information

Fingas, MF
Environmental Technology Centre, Environment Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Fieldhouse, B
Bier, I
Conrod, D
Tennyson, E
Minerals Management Service, Herndon, Virginia, U.S.A.
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Developed by Committee: F20
Pages: 41–54
DOI: 10.1520/STP15387S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5309-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1999-4