Crude oil contains small particulate materials like wax and/or asphaltenes. Wax is a type of lipid that may contain a wide variety of long-chain alkanes, esters, polyesters and hydroxyl-esters of long-chain primary alcohols and fatty acids with a very low melting point below 45°C.
Asphaltenes are commonly defined as carbonaceous materials that are insoluble in n-pentane (or n-heptane) at a dilution ratio of 40:1 and soluble in toluene. They are typically found in crude oil, bitumen, and coal. Both wax and asphaltenes may cause substantial problems in crude oil transportation because they tend to separate from the oil phase, form buildups on the wall of pipelines, and eventually reduce or block the flow of crude oil. The viscosity of those non-aqueous systems is strongly correlated with the charge amount of the particulates. NAT has developed several technologies to stabilize those particulate materials, reduce the viscosity of the whole crude oil system, prevent deposition on the wall, and prolong the lifetime of pipelines.