Flow assurance

Institute of functional surfaces flow assurance

The efficient recovery of oil and gas relies on minimising the effects of mineral scale, waxes and other foulants. These foulants exists as deposits of unwanted material on pipelines of other surfaces (e.g. heat exchangers). Our research focuses on the surface processes that facilitate the crystallisation of foulants on engineering surfaces. 

Current research

  • Understanding the kinetics of organic and inorganic surface fouling
  • Development of in-situ techniques for the study of real time scaling processes
  • Understanding scale formation in multiphase flow conditions
  • Heat exchanger fouling for industrial and domestic applications
  • Surface coatings for mitigation of fouling
  • Developing bespoke surface solutions for scaling relying on liquid-infused surfaces
  • Assessing scale dissolution processes and rates.

The work in flow assurance is principally funded by industry; we have a number of one-to-one and joint industry projects.

Research highlights

  • Establishing the relationship between bulk and surface scaling kinetics
  • Development and assessment of new coatings for subsea safety control valves to control mineral fouling
  • Development of a nanotechnology-assisted squeeze treatment
  • In-situ visualisation for real-time assessment of scale kinetics
  • In-situ synchrotron XRD for the assessment of scale formation and inhibition.


Our laboratory techniques range from bespoke systems designed and built in the institute and standard advanced surface analysis:

  • In-situ visualisation rig
  • HT/HP autoclaves
  • HT/HP capillary cells
  • Electrochemical Quartz Crystal Micro Balance (EQCMB)
  • In-situ Raman cell for capillary analysis
  • Bulk jar test facilities.

Surface analysis techniques are an integral part of surface design and iFS labs are well-equipped to support efficient use of the coatings platform, including Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy, Atomic Force Microscope, Fourier Transform Infra Red, Nano-indentation and Raman spectroscopy.

Research team

PhD projects

We have opportunities for prospective prospective postgraduate researchers. Find out more.

Contact us

If you are interested in collaborating with us or joining our research team, please get in touch with a relevent member of staff.