A new coating technology developed by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago offers a way to keep oil from clogging filter membranes and other equipment used in the oil and gas industry.
Atomic layer deposition was used to modify a common polymer membrane surface by applying nanosized metal oxide coatings with a thickness of about 10 nm. The water-loving, oil-repelling metal oxide film forms strong chemical bonds with the polymer to which it adheres. The molecular dynamics simulations confirmed the role of tightly bound hydration layers in protecting the surface from crude oil adhesion. The atomic layer deposition process keeps the membranes from clogging to better filter the water passing through them.
These oil-resistant membranes could significantly reduce the need for both filter replacement and the downtime incurred when oil operators encounter clogged filters during hydraulic fracturing.