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New application of THz technique on water evaluation in crude oil

Science China Press


IMAGE: Producing sample pool using AM technology and the relationship between water content and THz parameters. view more

Credit: ©Science China Press

Water content in crude oil is closely related to the prediction of water level of oil well, the evaluation of oil reservoir exploitation and the recovery and development of mining scheme. Therefore, the accurate measurement of water content is significant not only for forecasting the exploiting capacity of an oil field before mining and estimating working status, but also for grading and evaluating oil products.

In order to optimize the production and confirm the security, simple and secure methods have been proposed for detecting the water content in crude oil. Terahertz (THz) radiation is a newly-developed, non-contact and secure method, and can be absorbed by organics and water molecules in different degrees, which has been used to evaluate the quality of oil and oil products.

In the article, coauthored with LiMei Guan, HongLei Zhan, XinYang Miao, Jing Zhu, Kun Zhao, water content in oil-water mixtures from 1.8%-90.6% was measured by using special designed samplers for high-water-content oil which are manufactured by additive manufacturing system. These researchers stated: "water content of oil-water mixtures with high water content is quantitatively characterized by the combination of THz spectroscopy and 3D-printing technology".

The study was published in the journal Science China Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy. The strong absorption of water in the THz range leads to a decrease in SNR (signal-to-noiseratio), applying the additive manufactured samplers, the problem that signals usually affected by the significant signal attenuation can be resolved.

Detailed analysis shows the relationships among THz parameters such as signal peak, time delay, and refractive index as well as absorption coefficient and water content in crude oil. Therefore, these THz parameters can be used to continuously monitor the moisture content.

In summary, the combination of THz spectroscopy and AM technique can be applied in oil characterization, even when the oilfield enters the high-water-bearing period. This combination could be a promising selection for measuring water content of fluid with good accuracy, which in turn could open up a new area of research.


This research was funded by the National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2014CB744302), the Specially Funded Program on National Key Scientific Instruments and Equipment Development (Grant No. 2012YQ140005), the China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Association Science and Technology Guidance Program (Grant No. 2016-01-07) and the National Nature Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 11574401).

See the article:

LiMei Guan, HongLei Zhan, XinYang Miao, et al. Terahertz-dependent evaluation of water content in high-water-cut crude oil using additive-manufactured samplers. Sci China-Phys Mech Astron, 2017, 60(4): 044211

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