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Dehydration of water in oil (W/O) emulsion becomes difficult as crude oil properties change continuously with oil production. Separation methods utilizing high electric fields have been used extensively in the petroleum industry. A compact electrocoalescer would have the advantage of being smaller and lighter than traditional ones, and thus would reduce the investment needed and be easier to install on an offshore platform. However, the fundamental mechanisms governing the behavior of W/O emulsions under a high electric field are still not very well understood. Many researchers have focused on deformation, movement of one or two droplets, and a droplet diameter of about 1 mm; however, droplets in W/O emulsion are usually smaller than 100 µm. In this paper, experiments investigated the movement of multiple droplets in W/O emulsion under a pulsed DC electric field. The velocity, direction, and coalescence manner of droplets less than 100μm (under frequencies from 10Hz to 2000Hz and electric field strength of 500kV/m) were studied with a micro high-speed camera system and image processing technology.

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