Dimensionless Equation of State to Predict Microemulsion Phase Behavior

Soumyadeep Ghosh, Russell T. Johns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Prediction of microemulsion phase behavior for changing state variables is critical to formulation design of surfactant-oil-brine (SOB) systems. SOB systems find applications in various chemical and petroleum processes, including enhanced oil recovery. A dimensional equation-of-state (EoS) was recently presented by Ghosh and Johns1 that relied on estimation of the surfactant tail length and surface area. We give an algorithm for flash calculations for estimation of three-phase Winsor regions that is more robust, simpler, and noniterative by making the equations dimensionless so that estimates of tail length and surface area are no longer needed. We predict phase behavior as a function temperature, pressure, volume, salinity, oil type, oil-water ratio, and surfactant/alcohol concentration. The dimensionless EoS is based on coupling the HLD-NAC (Hydrophilic Lipophilic Difference-Net Average Curvature) equations with new relationships between optimum salinity and solubility. An updated HLD expression that includes pressure is also used to complete the state description. A significant advantage of the dimensionless form of the EoS over the dimensional version is that salinity scans are tuned based only on one parameter, the interfacial volume ratio. Further, stability conditions are developed in a simplified way to predict whether an overall compositions lies within the single, two-, or three-phase regions. Important new microemulsion relationships are also found, the most important of which is that optimum solubilization ratio is equal to the harmonic mean of the oil and water solubilization ratios in the type III region. Thus, only one experimental measurement is needed in the three-phase zone to estimate the optimum solubilization ratio, a result which can aid experimental design and improve estimates of optimum from noisy data. Predictions with changing state variables are illustrated by comparison to experimental data using standard diagrams including a new type of dimensionless fish plot. The results show that the optimum solubilization ratio and salinity using the tuned dimensionless EoS are within average errors of 2.44% and 1.17% of experimental values for the fluids examined. We then use the dimensionless equations and thermodynamic first-principles to derive the constant in Huh's equation for interfacial tension prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8969-8979
Number of pages11
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 6 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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