LNNano - Brazilian Nanotechnology National Laboratory

3D-Printed microfluidic device enables reliable and low-cost processing of petroleum

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Simple, Expendable, 3D-Printed Microfluidic Systems for Sample Preparation of Petroleum


Érica M. Kataoka,a Rui C. Murer,a Jandyson M. Santos,b Rogério M. Carvalho,c Marcos N. Eberlin,b Fabio Augusto,b Ronei J. Poppi,b Angelo L. Gobbi,a and Leandro W. Hantaoa,b

  1. Laboratório Nacional de Nanotecnologia, Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Energia e Materiais
  2. Instituto de Química, Universidade Estadual de Campinas
  3. Centro de Pesquisas e Desenvolvimento Américo Miguez de Mello, Petrobras


In this study, we introduce a simple protocol to manufacture disposable, 3D-printed microfluidic systems for sample preparation of petroleum. This platform is produced with a consumer-grade 3D-printer, using fused deposition modeling. Successful incorporation of solid-phase extraction (SPE) to microchip was ensured by facile 3D element integration using proposed approach. This 3D-printed μSPE device was applied to challenging matrices in oil and gas industry, such as crude oil and oil-brine emulsions. Case studies investigated important limitations of nonsilicon and nonglass microchips, namely, resistance to nonpolar solvents and conservation of sample integrity. Microfluidic features remained fully functional even after prolonged exposure to nonpolar solvents (20 min). Also, 3D-printed μSPE devices enabled fast emulsion breaking and solvent deasphalting of petroleum, yielding high recovery values (98%) without compromising maltene integrity. Such finding was ascertained by high-resolution molecular analyses using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry by monitoring important biomarker classes, like C10 demethylated terpanes, ααα-steranes, and monoaromatic steroids. 3D-Printed chips enabled faster and reliable preparation of maltenes by exhibiting a 10-fold reduction in sample processing time, compared to the reference method. Furthermore, polar (oxygen-, nitrogen-, and sulfur-containing) analytes found in low-concentrations were analyzed by Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry. Analysis results demonstrated that accurate characterization may be accomplished for most classes of polar compounds, except for asphaltenes, which exhibited lower recoveries (82%) due to irreversible adsorption to sorbent phase. Therefore, 3D-printing is a compelling alternative to existing microfabrication solutions, as robust devices were easy to prepare and operate.

Direct Linkhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.analchem.6b04413