Research course

Flow Assurance: The Asphaltene Problem

University of Leeds · School of Chemical and Process Engineering

Entry requirements

Applicants must have a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2.1), or equivalent, in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, physics. If English is not the applicant’s first language, they must provide evidence that they meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

Months of entry


Course content

Asphaltenes are the heavy component of crude oil. The polyaromatic core and heteroatoms of asphaltenes promotes their surface activity, with asphaltenes strongly partitioning at the solid-liquid interface. The adsorption and/or deposition of asphaltenes at interfaces create many flow assurance challenges including pipeline blocking and poor water-crude oil separation. Chemical dispersants to minimize the aggregation potential of asphaltenes and reduce their capacity to adsorb/deposit at an interface are frequently added. While these dispersants provide a performance advantage, they are often incapable of completely preventing asphaltene adsorption. The current study will focus on designing smarter chemicals to target the surface active fraction of asphaltenes, thus eliminating a major flow assurance problem.

Fees and funding

This scholarship is part of Leeds Anniversary Research Scholarship scheme.

This scholarship is fully funded covering fees and a maintenance of £14,254 in 2016/17

Qualification and course duration


full time
48 months

Course contact details

Dr David Harbottle