The fluorescence of crude petroleum oils is sensitive to changes in chemical composition and many different fluorescence methods have been used to characterize crude oils. The use of fluorescence lifetimes to quantitatively characterize oil composition has practical advantages over steady-state measurements, but there have been comparatively few studies in which the lifetime behavior is correlated with gross chemical compositional data. In this study, the fluorescence lifetimes for a series of 23 crude petroleum oils with American Petroleum Institute (API) gravities of between 10 and 50 were measured at several emission wavelengths (450–785 nm) using a 380 nm light emitting diode (LED) excitation source. It was found that the intensity average fluorescence lifetime (τ) at any emission wave-length does not correlate well with either API gravity or aromatic concentration. However, it was found that τ is strongly negatively correlated with both the polar and sulfur concentrations and positively correlated with the corrected alkane concentration. This indicates that the fluorescence behavior of crude petroleum oils is governed primarily by the concentration of quenching species. All the strong lifetime–concentration correlations are nonlinear and show a high degree of scatter, especially for medium to light oils with API gravities of between 25 and 40. The degree of scatter is greatest for oils where the concentrations (wt %) of the polar fraction is ~10 ± 4%, the asphaltene component is ~1 ± 0.5%, and sulfur is 0.5 ± 0.4%. This large degree of scatter precludes the use of average fluorescence lifetime data obtained with 380 nm excitation for the accurate prediction of the common chemical compositional parameters of crude petroleum oils.
National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science, National University of Ireland–Galway, Galway, Ireland
Publication date: May 1, 2004
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