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Investigation into the mechanisms by which microwave heating enhances separation of water-in-oil emulsions

Binner, Eleanor; Robinson, John P.; Silvester, S.A.; Kingman, S.W.; Lester, Edward


Eleanor Binner

John P. Robinson

S.A. Silvester

S.W. Kingman

Edward Lester


The separation of water-in-oil emulsions made with Azeri crude was investigated using natural gravity settling and microwave heating techniques. Separation times could be reduced by an order of magnitude compared with untreated emulsions. Increasing the salinity of the water phase leads to a 15% average decrease in the settling time for untreated emulsions compared with over 90% for microwave-heated emulsions. An image analysis technique showed that the observed increases in settling time could not be attributed to changes in viscosity alone. Significant coalescence of water droplets occurs during microwave heating, however the effects of coalescence and viscosity reduction cannot be completely decoupled. Despite this, it is clear that it is the thermal effect of microwave heating that leads to improvements in settling times, and that any advantages in microwave heating over conventional heating can be explained by selective heating of the aqueous phase rather than so-called non-thermal effects.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 15, 2014
Journal Fuel
Print ISSN 0016-2361
Electronic ISSN 1873-7153
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 116
Institution Citation Binner, E., Robinson, J. P., Silvester, S., Kingman, S., & Lester, E. (2014). Investigation into the mechanisms by which microwave heating enhances separation of water-in-oil emulsions. Fuel, 116, doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2013.08.042
Keywords Water-in-oil emulsion, Microwave, Coalescence, Viscosity, Interfacial tension, Selective heating
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:


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