Sulzer Chemtech has developed the VIEC, an electrostatic coalescer with fully insulated electrodes which enhances the effective removal of unwanted water from crude oil.
A growing number of oilfields have higher volumes of free and emulsified water in oil emulsions. Sulzer’s VIEC can be installed in new separators or retrofitted in existing vessels and forms a cross-sectional wall that forces emulsions through a high-voltage electrical field. While gas leaves the separator from the top, the water droplets merge and fall to the bottom of the separator. At the same time, oil flows through the vessel for subsequent processing.
By fully insulating the VIEC’s electrodes, Sulzer has ensured that the VIEC can withstand any concentration of water and gas, even when the feed contains very high volumes of water. Therefore, it can be installed in the early separation stages to remove most of the water in the emulsion, as opposed to conventional electrostatic coalescers, which do not tolerate high amounts of water and gas. The company says the VIEC can deliver crude oil with purities comparable or higher than other systems.