Separation and Characterization of Petroleum Sulfonate Components

Ziyan Feng1,*, Mingwei Cui1, Jingjing Liu2, Yuhe Song2 and Joshua Qingsong Li2

1Research Institute of Shaanxi Yanchang Petroleum (Group) Co., Ltd. Xi'an 710075, Shaanxi Province, P.R. China

2The State Key Lab of Heavy Oil Processing, School of Chemical Engineering, China University of Petroleum-East China, Qingdao City 266580, Shandong Province, P.R. China

*Corresponding author: Tel: +86 18629347282, E-mail:


The objective of this research was to establish a systematic method to isolate and characterize petroleum sulfonate components. Petroleum sulfonate was separated into unsulfonated oil and oil-soluble components, an intermediate component and a hydrophilic component according to their polarities using column chromatography. Petroleum ether, 2-butanone, 95 % isobutanol and water were used as the eluent. The separation was monitored by infrared spectroscopy. The petroleum sulfonate components were characterized by elemental analysis and electrospray ionization-mass spectrometry. The experimental results showed that the petroleum sulfonate was composed of surfactant components with different polarities. The S and N contents increased with the increasing polarity of petroleum sulfonate components, whereas the average relative molecular mass decreased. The intermediate component, obtained by mixing with a water-soluble component at a 3:1 ratio, had the lowest interfacial tension.


Petroleum sulfonate component, Column chromatography, Infrared spectroscopy, Electrospray ionization mass spectrometry.

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