Pore scale investigation of low salinity surfactant nanofluid injection into oil saturated sandstone via X-ray micro-tomography
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science
School of Engineering
Government of Western Australia.
Hypothesis: Low salinity surfactant nanofluids have recently shown promising characteristics in wettability alteration of the silicate-based rock representative substrate and interfacial tension reduction of oil/aqueous phase interface. Pore level understanding of the physical processes entailed in this new class of low salinity injection fluids in oil-phase saturated real rock porous media is required, which has not been conceived yet. Experiments: Thus, we investigate the oil recovery performance and possible mechanisms of oil recovery by the injection of low salinity surfactant (SDBS, 1.435 mM) aqueous solutions (with 0%, 0.01% and 0.1% (by weight) ZrO2 nanoparticles) into the oil phase saturated Doddington sandstone miniature core plugs. The designed experiment involves core flooding with X-ray transparent core-holder developed in-house and analysis/processing of the acquired image data. Findings: The injection of low salinity surfactant nanofluids with 0.01% ZrO2 nanoparticles leads to maximum oil phase recovery. The results suggest that the dominating mechanisms for oil recovery are wettability alteration, inherent interfacial tension reduction, and the effect of significant amount of microemulsions formation is rather trivial. Low salinity effect, even in combination with surfactant, caused fines migrations (not reported earlier), is found to be significantly mitigated using nanoparticles. This new class of fluids may significantly enhance oil recovery.