Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D Candidate, Department of Petroleum Engineering, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Petroleum Engineering, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran

3 Professor, Department of Petroleum Engineering, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran

4 Assistant Professor, Department of Petroleum Engineering, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran


Ultrasonic irradiation is a new, economic, and environmentally friendly technique for treating asphaltene aggregation in petroleum industry. In this study, the effect of ultrasonic radiation on asphaltene formation is investigated using conventional optical microscopy, viscosity measurement, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). To this end, five crude oil samples, collected from different reservoirs, are used, and the effect of ultrasonic radiation on the structure of the crude oils is investigated at various exposure times. The results show that, at an optimum radiation time, the ultrasonic waves can break the asphaltene clusters and shift the size distribution of the asphaltene aggregate to a smaller size. In addition, the FTIR analysis reveals structural changes in the composition of the crude oil after the ultrasonic irradiation. By increasing the ultrasound exposure time, the viscosity of the asphaltenic oil first decreases to a minimum before rising again. Moreover, the measurement of asphaltene and resin content of the crude oils indicates that at exposure times longer than the one leading to the minimum viscosity, resin molecules are broken upon exposure to ultrasound. This can be the main reason for the existence of an optimum time in the application of ultrasonic radiation, after which the percentage of asphaltene particles and the viscosity of the crude oils increase.


  • Investigating the effect of ultrasonic radiation on asphaltene size distribution in crude oil;
  • Studying the effect of ultrasonic radiation on the viscosity of asphaltenic crude oil;
  • Analyzing structural changes in crude oil after ultrasonic irradiation using FTIR analysis;
  • Evaluating the existence of an optimum radiation time for applying ultrasound;
  • Examining the changes of asphaltene and resin content of crude oil due to ultrasonic irradiation;
  • Proposing the reason for structural and rheological changes in crude oil after ultrasonic irradiation.


Main Subjects

Aarts, A.C.T., Ooms, G., Bil, K.J. and Bot, E.T.G., Enhancement of liquid flow through a porous medium by ultrasonic radiation, In European Petroleum Conference, Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE-50594-MS, p. 239, 1998.

Abramov, V.O., Mullakaev, M.S., Abramova, A.V., Esipov, I.B. and Mason, T.J, Ultrasonic technology for enhanced oil recovery from failing oil wells and the equipment for its implemention, Ultrasonics sonochemistry, Vol. 20, No. 5, p. 1289–95, 2013.

Acevedo, S., Méndez, B., Rojas, A., Layrisse, I. and Rivas, H., Asphaltenes and resins from the Orinoco basin, Fuel, Vol. 64, No. 12, p. 1741–47, 1985.

Ahmadbaygi, A., Bayati, B., Mansouri, M., Rezaei, H. and Riazi, M., Chemical study of asphaltene inhibitors effects on asphaltene precipitation of an Iranian oil field, Oil & Gas Science and Technology–Revue d’IFP Energies nouvelles, Vol. 75, No. 6, p. 10, 2020.

Akbarzadeh, K., Hammami, A., Kharrat, A., Zhang, D., Allenson, S., Creek, J., Kabir, S., Jamaluddin, A., Marshall, A.G., Rodgers, R.P. and Mullins, O.C., Asphaltenes—problematic but rich in potential, Oilfield Review, Vol. 19, No. 2, p. 22–43, 2007.

Alkafeef, S. F., An investigation of the stability of colloidal asphaltene in petroleum reservoirs, In SPE International Symposium on Oilfield Chemistry, Society of Petroleum Engineers, 65018-MS, 2001.

Andersen, S.I. and Birdi, K.S.,, Aggregation of asphaltenes as determined by calorimetry, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol. 142, No. 2, p. 497–502, 1991.

Antes, F.G., Diehl, L.O., Pereira, J.S., Guimarães, R.C., Guarnieri, R.A., Ferreira, B.M. and Flores, E.M., Effect of ultrasonic frequency on separation of water from heavy crude oil emulsion using ultrasonic baths, Ultrasonics sonochemistry, Vol. 35, p. 541–546, 2017.

Beresnev, I.A. and Johnson, P.A., Elastic-wave stimulation of oil production: A review of methods and results, Geophysics, Vol. 59, No. 6, p. 1000–1017, 1994.

Chen, WI., Influence of ultrasonic energy upon the rate of flow of liquids through porous media, Osti Publication, 1969.

Cho, Y., Na, J.G., Nho, N.S., Kim, S. and Kim, S., Application of saturates, aromatics, resins, and asphaltenes crude oil fractionation for detailed chemical characterization of heavy crude oils by Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry equipped with atmospheric pressure photoionization, Energy & Fuels, Vol. 26, No. 5, p. 2558–2565, 2012.

Fairbanks, HV., and WI Chen, Ultrasonic acceleration of liquid flow through porous media, In AIChE Symp. Ser.;(United States). West Virginia Univ. No. CONF-701103, 1970.

Fan, Y. and Zhiping, L., Effect of wax deposition on the porosity and permeability of reservoir, Natural Gas Geoscience., Vol. 17, No. 6, p. 848–850, 2006.

Garshol, Tore A, Investigation of Asphaltene Precipitation Mechanisms on the Gyda Field, Ph.D. thesis, Norwergian University of Science and Technology. Recuperado el, 2005.

Hamedi Rad, M., M. Tavakolian, I. Najafi, M. H. Ghazanfari, V. Taghikhani, and M. Amani, Modeling the kinetics of asphaltene flocculation in toluene–pentane systems for the case of sonicated crude oils, Scientia Iranica, Vol. 20, No. 3, p. 611–616, 2013.

Hemmati-Sarapardeh, A., Dabir, B., Ahmadi, M., Mohammadi, A.H. and Husein, M.M., Toward mechanistic understanding of asphaltene aggregation behavior in toluene, The roles of asphaltene structure, aging time, temperature, and ultrasonic radiation, Journal of Molecular Liquids, Vol. 264, p. 410–424, 2018.

Hirschberg, A., deJong, L.N., Schipper, B.A. and Meijer, J.G., Influence of temperature and pressure on asphaltene flocculation, Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3, p. 283–293, 1984.

Ilyin, S., Arinina, M., Polyakova, M., Bondarenko, G., Konstantinov, I., Kulichikhin, V. and Malkin, A., Asphaltenes in heavy crude oil: Designation, precipitation, solutions, and effects on viscosity, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, Vol. 147, p. 211–217, 2016.

Jasmine, J. and Mukherji, S., Characterization of oily sludge from a refinery and biodegradability assessment using various hydrocarbon degrading strains and reconstituted consortia, Journal of environmental management, Vol. 149, p. 118–125, 2015.

Jiahong, Z., The analyse of porous media permeability in oil stratum by ultrasonic, China Academic Journal Electronic Publishing House, Vol. 2, 2010.

Keshavarzi, B, R Karimi, I Najafi, MH Ghazanfari, M Amani, and C Ghotbi, Investigation of Low Frequency Elastic Wave Application for Fluid Flow Percolation Enhancement in Fractured Porous Media, Petroleum Science and Technology, Vol. 31, No. 11, p. 1159–1167, 2013.

Kuang, J., Melendez-Alvarez, A.A., Yarbrough, J., Garcia-Bermudes, M., Tavakkoli, M., Abdallah, D.S., Punnapala, S. and Vargas, F.M., Assessment of the performance of asphaltene inhibitors using a multi-section packed bed column, Fuel, Vol. 241, p. 247–254, 2019.

LU, G.W., LI, Y.F., Hui, S., YU, Y.H. and WANG, C.L., Micromechanism of petroleum asphaltene aggregation, Petroleum Exploration and Development, Vol. 35, No. 1, p. 67–72, 2008.

Mohamed, R.S., Loh, W., Ramos, A.C., Delgado, C.C. and Almeida, V.R., Reversibility and inhibition of asphaltene precipitation in Brazilian crude oils, Petroleum Science and Technology, Vol. 17, No.7–8, p. 877–896, 1999.

Moncada, J., Schartung, D., Stephens, N., Oh, T.S. and Carrero, C.A., Determining the flocculation point of asphaltenes combining ultrasound and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Fuel, Vol. 241, p. 870–875, 2019.

Mousavi, S.M.R, A. Ramazani, I. Najafi, and S.M. Davachi, Effect of ultrasonic irradiation on rheological properties of asphaltenic crude oils, Petroleum science, Vol. 9, No.1, p. 82–88, 2012.

Mousavi, SMR., I. Najafi, MH. Ghazanfari, and M. Amani, Comparison of Ultrasonic Wave Radiation Effects on Asphaltene Aggregation in Toluene–Pentane Mixture Between Heavy and Extra Heavy Crude Oils, Journal of Energy Resources Technology, Vol. 134, No. 2, p. 022001. 2012.

Najafi I., Mousavi S.M.R., Ghazanfari M.H., Ramazani A., Kharrat R., Ghotbi C, Quantifying the role of ultrasonic wave radiation on kinetics of asphaltene aggregation in toluene–pentane mixture, Petroleum Science and Technology, Vol. 29, p. 966–974, 2011.

Najafi, I., and M. Amani, Asphaltene flocculation inhibition with ultrasonic wave radiation: a detailed experimental study of the governing mechanisms, Advances in petroleum exploration and development, Vol. 2, No.2, p. 32–36, 2011.

Nakhli, H., A. Alizadeh, M. Sadeqi Moqadam, S. Afshari, R. Kharrat, and MH. Ghazanfari, Monitoring of asphaltene precipitation: Experimental and modeling study, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, Vol. 78, No.2, p. 384–395, 2011.

Ning, X.A., Feng, Y., Wu, J., Chen, C., Wang, Y., Sun, J., Chang, K., Zhang, Y., Yang, Z. and Liu, J., Effect of K2FeO4/US treatment on textile dyeing sludge disintegration and dewaterability, Journal of environmental management, Vol. 162, p. 81–86, 2015.

Petrella, L.I., Maggi, L.E., Souza, R.M., Alvarenga, A.V. and Costa-Félix, R.P., Influence of subcutaneous fat in surface heating of ultrasonic diagnostic transducers, Ultrasonics, Vol. 54, No. 6, p. 1476–1479, 2014.

Pu, C., Shi, D., Zhao, S. and Xu, H. Technology of removing near wellbore inorganic scale damage by high power ultrasonic treatment, Petroleum Exploration and Development, Vol. 38, No. 2, p. 243–248, 2011.

Qiang, L.A.I., Bing, X.I.E., Yuyu, W.U., HUANG, K., Xinggang, L.I.U., Yan, J.I.N., Wenjun, L.U.O. and LIANG, T., Petrophysical characteristics and logging evaluation of asphaltene carbonate reservoirs: A case study of the Cambrian Longwangmiao Formation in Anyue gas field, Sichuan Basin, SW China, Petroleum Exploration and Development, Vol. 44, No. 6, p. 941–947, 2017.

Rabbani, A. and Schmitt, D.R., Ultrasonic shear wave reflectometry applied to the determination of the shear moduli and viscosity of a viscoelastic bitumen, Fuel, Vol. 232, p. 506–518, 2018.

Rashid, Z., Wilfred, C.D., Iyyaswami, R., Appusamy, A. and Thanabalan, M., Appusamy Arunagiri, and Murugesan Thanabalan, Investigating the solubility of Petroleum Asphaltene in ionic liquids and their interaction using COSMO-RS, Journal of industrial and engineering chemistry, Vol. 79, p. 194–203, 2019.

Rezaei Dehshibi, R., A. Mohebbi, M. Riazi, and F. Danafar, Visualization study of the effects of oil type and model geometry on oil recovery under ultrasonic irradiation in a glass micro-model, Fuel, Vol. 239, p. 709–716, 2019.

Roosta, M, M Ghaedi, A Daneshfar, R Sahraei, and A Asghari, Optimization of combined ultrasonic assisted/tin sulfide nanoparticle loaded on activated carbon removal of erythrosine by response surface methodology', Journal of industrial and engineering chemistry, Vol. 21, p. 459–469, 2015.

Shedid, S.A., and S.R. Attallah, Influences of ultrasonic radiation on asphaltene behavior with and without solvent effects, In SPE International Symposium and Exhibition on Formation Damage Control. Society of Petroleum Engineers, 86473-MS, 2004.

Singh, J., Yang, J.K. and Chang, Y.Y., Rapid degradation of phenol by ultrasound-dispersed nanometallic particles (NMPs) in the presence of hydrogen peroxide: A possible mechanism for phenol degradation in water, Journal of environmental management, Vol. 175, p. 60–66, 2016.

Strobel, J., Rupitsch, S.J. and Lerch, R., Ferroelectret sensor array for characterization of cavitation effects in ultrasonic cleaning, In Ultrasonics Symposium (IUS), 2009 IEEE International, p. 1–4, 2009.

Taheri-Shakib, J, A Shekarifard, H Naderi, and SA Hosseini, Effect of microwave irradiation on wax and asphaltene content of heavy crude oil, In 79th EAGE Conference and Exhibition, 2017.

Taheri-Shakib, J., A. Shekarifard, and H. Naderi, a., The experimental investigation of effect of microwave and ultrasonic waves on the key characteristics of heavy crude oil', Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, Vol. 128, p. 92–101, 2017.

Taheri-Shakib, J., A. Shekarifard, and H. Naderi, b., The experimental study of Effect of microwave heating time on the heavy oil properties: Prospects for heavy oil upgrading', Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, Vol. 128, p. 176–186, 2017.

Taheri-Shakib, J., A. Shekarifard, and H. Naderi, a., Analysis of the asphaltene properties of heavy crude oil under ultrasonic and microwave irradiation, Journal of Analytical and Applied Pyrolysis, Vol. 129, p. 171–180, 2018.

Taheri-Shakib, J., A. Shekarifard, and H.Naderi, b., Experimental investigation of the asphaltene deposition in porous media: Accounting for the microwave and ultrasonic effects, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, Vol. 163, p. 453–462, 2018.

Testing, American Society for, and Materials. D 6560-00; IP 143/01: Standard Test Method for Determination of Asphaltenes (heptaine Insolubles) in Crude Petroleum and Petroleum Products (ASTM), 2000.

Tharanivasan, Asok Kumar, Asphaltene precipitation from crude oil blends, conventional oils, and oils with emulsified water, Phd thesis, University of Calgary, Vol. 73, No. 10, 2012.

Van der Bas, F., de Rouffignac, E., Zuiderwijk, P. and van Batenburg, D., Near wellbore stimulation by acoustic waves, In Abu Dhabi International Conference and Exhibition. Society of Petroleum Engineers, 2004.

Wang, J., Predicting asphaltene flocculation in crude oils, Phd thesis, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Petroleum Engineering. 2000.

Wang, Z., Xu, Y. and Suman, B., Research status and development trend of ultrasonic oil production technique in China, Ultrasonics Sonochemistry, Vol. 26, p. 1–8, 2015.

Werner, A, F Behar, JC De Hemptinne, and E Behar, Viscosity and phase behaviour of petroleum fluids with high asphaltene contents, Fluid phase equilibria, Vol. 147, No. 1–2, p. 343–356, 1998.