A multi-scale approach linking self-aggregation & surface interactions of synthesised foulants to fouling mitigation strategies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • External authors:
  • Domna-maria Kaimaki
  • Barnaby Haire
  • Hugh Ryan
  • Guadalupe Jiménez-serratos
  • Richard Marcos Alloway
  • Mark Little
  • John Morrison
  • Ibrahim Salama
  • Marcus Tillotson
  • Benjamin E. Smith
  • Saul Moorhouse
  • Tim S. Totton
  • Michael G. Hodges
  • Stuart Clarke
  • Erich A Muller
  • Colm Durkan


Fouling of oil-exposed surfaces remains a crucial issue due to the continued importance of oil as the world’s primary energy source. The key perpetrators in crude oil fouling have been identified as asphaltenes, a poorly-described mixture of diverse polyfunctional molecules that form part of the heaviest fractions of oil. Asphaltenes are responsible for a decrease in oil production and energy efficiency, and an increase in the risk of environmental hazards. Hence, understanding and managing systems that are prone to fouling is of great value but constitutes a challenge due to their complexity. In an effort to reduce that complexity, a study of a synthesised foulant of archipelago structure is presented. An alternative perspective on previously described solubility and aggregation mechanisms (eg. Critical Nanoaggrerate Concentration, Critical Clustering Concentration) is offered since the characterised system favours a continuous distribution of n-mers instead. A battery of experimental and modelling techniques have been employed to link the bulk and interfacial behaviour of a representative foulant monomer to effective fouling mitigation strategies. This systematic approach defines a new multiscale methodology in the investigation of fouling systems.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy & Fuels
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Jul 2019