This chapter describes a new technology based on electrorheology (ER) that simultaneously reduces oil viscosity and suppresses flow turbulence. The application of a strong electric field in a small section of the oil pipeline causes the polarization of suspended particles contained in the oil phase aggregating them into short chains along the flow direction. This particle aggregation breaks the rotational symmetry and makes the oil viscosity anisotropic, which in turn reduces the oil viscosity along the flow direction. Simultaneously, oil viscosity increases in the direction perpendicular to the flow, which supresses flow turbulence. This green technology does not involve the addition of chemicals to the oil phase and is environmentally friendly. This approach is also energy efficient because it only targets the particles suspended in the oil phase causing the formation of aggregates. Furthermore, heat is not required to reduce the viscosity of the oil phase. Neutron scattering experiments and field tests demonstrate the effectiveness of this technology. Electrorheology will play an important role during enhanced heavy oil recovery and/or production operations and transportation via pipeline.
Part of the book: Chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery (cEOR)