Abstract

In this study, we use a custom-designed visual cell to investigate nonequilibrium interactions between liquid propane (C3(l)) and a heavy oil sample (7.2 deg API) at varying experimental conditions. We inject C3(l) into the visual cell containing the heavy oil sample (pressure-buildup process) and allow the injected C3(l) to interact with the oil sample (soaking process). We measure visual-cell pressure and visualize the C3/heavy oil interactions during the pressure-buildup and soaking processes. Nonequilibrium interactions occurring at the interfaces of C3(l)/heavy oil and C3(l)/C3(g) are recorded with respect to time. The results show that the complete mixing of heavy oil with C3(l) occurs in two stages. First, upward extracting flows of oil components from bulk heavy oil phase toward C3(l) phase form a distinguished layer (L1) during the soaking process. The extracted oil components become denser over time and move downward (draining flows) toward the C3(l)/heavy oil interface due to gravity. The gradual color change of L1 from colorless (color of pure C3(l)) to black suggests the mixing of oil components with C3(l). After L1 appears to be uniform, a second layer (L2) is formed above L1 in the bulk C3(l) phase. Extracting and draining flows become active once again, leading to the mixing of oil components from L1 into L2. At final conditions, heavy oil and C3(l) appear to be mixed and form a single uniform phase.

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