Research / Research

OSRR-681-Laboratory-Scale Investigation of a Method for Enhancing the Effectiveness of Oil Dispersants in Destabilizing Water-in-Oil Emulsions

Project Number
Project Initiation Date
Performing Activity
Principal Investigator
Dr. Joel Hayworth
Contracting Agency
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
Estimated Completion Date

The research investigated the feasibility of enhancing the de-emulsifying properties of commercially available oil dispersants by modifying the composition and fraction of polar constituents in the oil phase of water-in-oil emulsions and increasing the pH of the emulsion aqueous phase.

The following tasks were accomplished during the research effort:

Task 1. Select candidate polar additives based on human and ecological toxicity, solubility, reactivity in dispersant solutions, and effectiveness in increasing the de-emulsification properties of commercially available dispersants. Additional consideration will be given to additives based on the ability to modify dispersant solution pH.

Task 2. Prior to conducting emulsion de-stabilization experiments, characterize the primary materials to be used (raw crude oil and dispersant COREXIT 9500) with respect to physical and chemical composition.

Task 3. Conduct a series of emulsion destabilization experiments. These experiments involved mixing known volumes of homogenized raw crude oil and (1) standard seawater; (2) standard seawater plus dispersant; and (3) standard seawater plus polar compound-modified dispersant.

Task 4. Document the efforts and results.

Latest progress update

The project has been completed and the Final Report is posted below.

Associated Attachments
These attachments are available as Portable Document Format (PDF) file format. PDF files require the Adobe Acrobat Reader to open and print. The Reader is available for free download from the Adobe website at
Hayworth, J..