Sunflower Oil Helps Prevent Corrosion in Artic Environments

Synthesis of epoxidized sunflower oil (ESFO) and phosphorylated polyol (phospol). Image courtesy of Kazan Federal University.

According to a recent study from researchers from Kazan Federal University (KFU) (Kazan, Russia), sunflower oil can be an important ingredient in inhibiting corrosion and gas hydrate formation in offshore oil and gas production facilities, as well as prevent well freezing in harsh Arctic conditions. The researchers found that sunflower oil served as a synthesizing a dual function inhibitor between anti-hydrate and anti-corrosion reagents.

The study, which will be published in the November 2020 edition of Energy, was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research Project N 18-05-70121. KFU’s partners in the study include the Russian Oil and Gas University (Moscow, Russia), Shahid Beheshti University (Tehran, Iran), and the University of Isfahan (Isfahan, Iran).

While there are several inhibitors on the market, they tend to be inefficient or environmentally unsafe. With that in mind, the researchers sought to develop an affordable and biodegradable inhibitor with a unique composition.

“We found that sunflower oil can be modified in several ways, and many molecules can be synthesized from it,” says Abdolreza Farhadian, a KFU research associate and co-author of the study. “The presence of alkyl chains in its structure can improve hydrate inhibition. Sunflower oil-based molecules can easily degrade due to the presence of ester groups in their structure.”

The researchers took special care that their inhibitor was not only effective but would also ensure the safety of the surrounding offshore environment.

“When we were developing this reagent, we were looking for a basis for the synthesis of molecules that would be the least toxic, biodegradable, and paid attention to natural compounds, primarily natural oils,” explains Mikhail Varfolomeev, head of hydrocarbon research at KFU and another co-author of the study. “From the point of view of chemistry, it was sunflower oil that interested us. First, it allows, by its structure, to implement exactly the synthesis method that we have invented. Secondly, sunflower oil is just a natural product, non-toxic and biodegradable. Exactly what we need.”

“It should be noted that the new sunflower oil-based inhibitor also allows the simultaneous killing of two birds with one stone—gas hydrates and pipeline corrosion,” adds Andrey Stoporev, a senior research associate and study co-author. “In the presence of such complications in oil and gas production, the proposed multifunctional inhibitors can be more effective than reagent mixtures used in industry.”

Along with their sunflower oil-based corrosion inhibitor, this KFU research team also worked on a project in 2019 in which synthesized castor oil-based inhibitors proved to be equally effective in eliminating gas hydrates and corrosion.

Source: Kazan Federal University,