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Revista mexicana de ingeniería química

versão impressa ISSN 1665-2738

Rev. Mex. Ing. Quím vol.9 no.3 Ciudad de México Dez. 2010




Effect of the concentration of ionic surfactants on the electrokinetic behavior of asphaltene precipitated from a maya mexican crude oil


Efecto de la concentración de surfactantes iónicos en el comportamiento electrocinético de asfalteno extraído de un crudo maya mexicano


S. Salmón–Vega1, R. Herrera–Urbina2, M. A. Valdez 1,3* and C. Lira–Galeana4


1 Departamento de Investigación en Polímeros y Materiales, Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, 83000, México.

2 Departamento de Ingeniería Química y Metalurgia, Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, 83000, México.

3 Departamento de Física, Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, 83000, México. *Corresponding author. E–mail:

4 Instituto Mexicano del Petróleo, Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 152, Col. San Bartolo Atepehuacan, México, D.F. 07730, México.


Received 20 of April 2010.
Accepted 13 of September 2010.



In this work we show the behaviour of the zeta potential of asphaltene when different concentrations of two cationic surfactants (cetylpyridinium chloride and dodecylamine hydrochloride) and one anionic surfactant (sodium dodecyl sulphate) interact with asphaltene particles at different pH in the aqueous phase. Asphaltene, precipitated from a Maya Mexican crude oil, was observed by Transmission electron micrographs showing that asphaltene is constituted of nanometric particles smaller than 50 nm in diameter. By changing the concentration of cetylpyridinium chloride, dodecylamine hydrochloride and sodium dodecyl sulphate from 0.01 mM to 1 mM, we were able to reverse and control the sign of the zeta potential of asphaltene, demonstrating the presence of both electrostatic and hydrophobic interaction s at the asphaltene surface. Thete interactions were alto observed by interfacial tension measurements at the toluene – water interface. It has been noticed that for low and high pH in the aqueous phase, the presence of dodecylamine hydrochloride and sodium dodecyl sulphate were not determinant on the asphaltene interfacial tension. On the contrary for pH near the IEP and pH neutral, these surfactants were more effective. The presence of cetylpiridinium hydrochloride in the aqueous phase changed the asphaltene interacial tension to very low values independent of the pH.

Keywords: asphaltene, zeta potential, ionic surfactants, interfacial tension, pH.



En este trabajo se muestra el efecto de la interacción de dos surfactantes catiónicos (cloruro de cetilpiridinio e hidrocloruro de dodecilamina) y un surfactante aniónico (dodecilsulfato de sodio) en el potencial zeta de asfalteno en diferentes pH. El asfalteno fue extraído de un crudo Maya y fue observado en Microscopía de transmisión, observándose partículas de tamaño promedio de 50 nm. Variando las concentraciones de los surfactantes de 0.01 a 1 mM, pudimos controlar la carga de las partículas de asfalteno y se pudo demostrar la existencia de interacciones electrostáticas e hidrofóbicas al variar el pH en la solución acuosa. El efecto de los surfactantes en la interfase asfalteno agua fue más significativo alrededor del punto isoeléctrico del asfalteno lo cual fue determinado por tensiometría interfacial. Por el contrario, a pH bajo y alto se observó una disminución del efecto de los surfactantes en la tensión interfacial, predominando las moléculas de asfalteno en la interfase.

Palabras clave: asfalteno, potencial zeta, surfactantes iónicos, tensión interfacial, pH.





Authors acknowledge the Instituto Mexicano del Petróleo (IMP) for the sample of crude oil, and Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT) for financial support of the present research through Grant No. ER074. S. Salmon also thanks CONACYT for her graduate studies scholarship. Contributions of Eduardo Larios of Universidad de Sonora for TEM analysis and Israel Gradilla for EDS studies are acknowledged.



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