Clathrate hydrates are ice-like crystalline compounds comprised of small guest molecules (i.e. methane, carbon dioxide, cyclopentane) enclathrated within a network of hydrogen-bonded water cages. They are commonly found in petroleum and gas extraction processes in many offshore operations where the low-temperature and high-pressure conditions are favorable for hydrate formation. As the extraction process continues, hydrates aggregate and attach onto the cold-surface of the extraction pipeline. The increased accumulation of hydrates on the pipeline presents flow assurance complications, which ultimately results in pipe plugging and operation shutdown with dramatic environmental, economical, and production impacts.
Adhesion behavior between cyclopentane (CP) hydrates and varying concentration of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) surfactant solution are studied by employing high-resolution microbalance. Spherical CP hydrates are brought into contact with a selected surfactant solution in CP/Decane environment and the resulting forces are measured to understand the initial contact and subsequent detachment forces. The changes in the force are studied as a function of varying concentration and surface morphology of supporting substrate. The force measurements obtained are analyzed and correlated using optical microscope images.