The application of modified-bentonite-enhanced oil dispersion in water and oil–mineral aggregate (OMA) formation was studied in the laboratory. The effect of modification on the surface properties of bentonite was characterized. The hydrophobicity and surface electric properties of bentonite were significantly improved by attaching cetyltrimethyl ammonium bromide to its surface. The results showed that surface properties of bentonite played an important role in OMA formation. Spherical droplets of OMAs were formed with natural bentonite and elongated solid OMAs and flake OMAs were formed with modified bentonite as observed by fluorescence microscopy. The effects of shaking time, oil concentration and mineral content were also studied. It was suggested that oil concentration and mineral content were critical factors and OMA formed rapidly with both types of bentonite. Modified bentonite had better performance on OMA formation than hydrophilic natural bentonite.

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