Demulsifiers, or emulsion breakers, are a class of specialty chemicals used to separate emulsions, for example, water in oil. They are commonly used in the processing of crude oil, which is typically produced along with significant quantities of saline water. This water (and salt) must be removed from the crude oil prior to refining. If the majority of the water and salt are not removed, significant corrosion problems can occur in the refining process.
Demulsification is used for the separation of water from crude oil. As crude oil is produced from a reservoir it tends to become mixed with either natural formation water or mixed formation and injection water. It is critical for refining process operations that the crude oil is efficiently and quickly separated from the water to allow oil to be exported and clean water to be discharged within consent, thus maximizing crude oil value and minimizing operating costs