Online particle measurement is one of the key technologies in characterising fluid quality and developing strategies to ensure the efficient operation of and optimise any separation process. Online imaging systems have the benefit of being able use their multi-dimensional data to provide more information than just particle size, as particle shape, aspect ratio and many other parameters measured can be used to identify and classify different types of particulates, such as oil droplets and solid particles in a produced water system.

This understanding of particle type, size and shape provides a significant step forward over simple particle size as it enables separation process design and operation to specifically treat and remove target particulates. In this paper we will examine case studies that demonstrate how specific particle information can be used to understand and optimise different treatment stages within a produced water treatment system.

Agglomerates appear frequently in some fluid systems and can confuse imaging systems where simple parameters are being used to differentiate between particle species as the agglomerated material will present with different shape characteristics to those of its individual constituent particles. We will review produced water systems where the chemicals used to aid separation, and some of the separation technologies themselves, operate by creating aggregation and agglomeration using case studies demonstrating these effects.

We will discuss where agglomerates commonly occur and what significance these particles have within the oily water separation process. We will review the latest imaging software package that is capable of identifying these types of agglomerated particles and assessing constituent components.

Finally we will assess how this information contributes to our understanding of the risk profile that these types of agglomerated materials present in produced water re-injection and how that risk profile may be developed and analysed in the future.

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