Applications and considerations for polyacrylamide in oil extraction

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With the development of the petroleum industry, the importance of oil wastewater treatment technology is increasingly prominent. Among numerous treatment technologies, polyacrylamide (PAM) has become an important auxiliary agent in the petroleum water treatment process due to its special properties. This article will introduce the application of polyacrylamide in oil water treatment, including its specifications, definitions, and importance in wastewater treatment. Polyacrylamide is a type of polymer synthesized from acrylamide monomers. Based on the charge properties of polyacrylamide molecular chains, it can be divided into cationic polyacrylamide (CPAM), anionic polyacrylamide (APAM), and non-ionic polyacrylamide (NPAM). The main function of polyacrylamide in the oil water treatment process is flocculation, settling, flotation, etc., which effectively separates oil and water and reduces environmental pollution.

Overview of Petroleum Water Treatment:

Petroleum water treatment refers to the process of treating oily wastewater generated during the production and processing of petroleum to meet environmental protection requirements. The goal of petroleum water treatment is to reduce the oil content, suspended solids, toxic substances, and organic matter content in the wastewater, thereby reducing pollution to the environment. Petroleum water treatment involves various technologies such as physical, chemical, and biological treatment methods.

Methods of Using Polyacrylamide in Petroleum Applications:

In the field of petroleum applications, polyacrylamide is mainly used to treat oily wastewater generated during processes such as oil extraction, drilling, and oil recovery. The following are detailed methods of using polyacrylamide in petroleum applications:

(1). Drilling Mud Treatment: During the drilling process, using drilling mud containing polyacrylamide can reduce the thickness of the mud cake, improve the rheological properties and sand carrying capacity of the drilling mud, and reduce the filtration loss of the drilling mud. Depending on the specific requirements of the drilling fluid system, an appropriate type of polyacrylamide can be selected as the treatment agent.

(2). Three-phase Separation: Separating crude oil, water, and natural gas is an important task in the process of oil recovery. Polyacrylamide can be added as a flocculant to oilfield wastewater, promoting oil droplet aggregation to form larger particles for easy separation. Non-ionic polyacrylamide (NPAM) is widely used in this process.

(3). Treatment of Oily Wastewater: Oily wastewater generated during the process of petroleum extraction and processing causes serious environmental pollution. Polyacrylamide can promote the aggregation of oil droplets and suspended solids through flocculation, forming larger particles for settling and achieving oil-water separation. An appropriate type of polyacrylamide can be selected based on the properties of the wastewater.

(4). Dehydration and Concentration: Polyacrylamide can be used as a flocculant to promote the separation of water and solid substances in petroleum sludge, increasing the solid content and reducing the difficulty of sludge treatment. Cationic polyacrylamide (CPAM) and non-ionic polyacrylamide (NPAM) are commonly used in this process.

(5). Oilfield Water Injection: As a displacement agent, polyacrylamide can increase the oil recovery rate during the oilfield water injection process. By improving the rheological properties of the injection fluid and reducing the water phase permeability, polyacrylamide enhances the oil displacement effect in the oil reservoir. Non-ionic polyacrylamide (NPAM) is commonly used in oilfield water injection.

(6). Acidizing of Oil and Gas Reservoirs: Acidizing of oil and gas reservoirs is a production-enhancing technique that improves the permeability of the reservoir by injecting acid solutions. During the acidizing process, polyacrylamide can be used as a water repellent and protective agent, protecting the oil reservoir from erosion by acid solutions. Non-ionic polyacrylamide (NPAM) and cationic polyacrylamide (CPAM) can be used in this process.

(7). Corrosion Inhibitor: Equipment and pipelines used in petroleum extraction and transportation are prone to corrosion. Polyacrylamide can be used as a corrosion inhibitor, forming a protective film on the metal surface to effectively reduce the corrosion rate. Cationic polyacrylamide (CPAM) is commonly used as a corrosion inhibitor in this field.


When using polyacrylamide for petroleum water treatment, the following points should be noted:

(1) Select the appropriate type and molecular weight of polyacrylamide to meet the treatment requirements.

(2) The preparation and dosage of polyacrylamide solution should be appropriate to ensure treatment effectiveness and avoid wasting resources.

(3) Follow safety operating procedures to prevent harm to human health and the environment from polyacrylamide.

(4) Regularly test and evaluate the treatment effectiveness, and adjust the treatment process based on actual conditions.


Polyacrylamide, as an important auxiliary agent in the petroleum water treatment process, has become a key material widely used in petroleum water treatment due to its good flocculation performance and environmental characteristics. By selecting the appropriate type, molecular weight, and dosage of polyacrylamide, the effectiveness of petroleum water treatment can be effectively improved while reducing environmental pollution. However, in practical applications, attention should be paid to the safe operation of polyacrylamide and the monitoring of treatment effectiveness to ensure its continuous and efficient role.

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