The influence of asphaltene-resin molecular interactions on the colloidal stability of crude oil

Masoumeh Mousavi, Tahereh Abdollahi, Farideh Pahlavan, Elham H. Fini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


In the colloidal hypothesis of vacuum residua and asphalt, micelles are assumed to have an asphaltenic core with the greatest weight and aromaticity and an outer shell composed of lighter and less aromatic molecules. The true nature of the micelles, and the asphaltenic core in particular, has always been a debatable issue among asphalt researchers. One of the frequently asked questions is whether asphaltenes exist as stacked layers within the micelles or as single molecular units stabilized by resin molecules. In this paper, we investigate the correlation between the number of asphaltene sheets and the final stability of the system in a medium of asphaltene and resin components. Our evaluation is based on rigorous quantum mechanical calculations using a DFT-D approach. Our quantitative findings corroborate the view that the colloidal behavior of crude oil is better described by asphaltene-asphaltene associations. Moreover, our calculations show that if both asphaltene and resin are present, resin-asphaltene interactions are preferred over asphaltene-asphaltene interactions only if the number of resin molecules per micelle is greater than the number of asphaltene molecules per micelle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-271
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Asphaltene micelles
  • Colloidal state
  • Density functional theory (DFT)
  • Petroleum resin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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