Influence of cryogenic liquid nitrogen on petro-physical characteristics of Mancos shale: An experimental investigation

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Energy and Fuels


American Chemical Society


School of Engineering


Edith Cowan University,

ECU Centre for High Technology,

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, CHT


Memon, K. R., Mahesar, A. A., Ali, M., Tunio, A. H., Mohanty, U. S., Akhondzadeh, H., ... & Keshavarz, A. (2020). Influence of Cryogenic Liquid Nitrogen on Petro-Physical Characteristics of Mancos Shale: An Experimental Investigation. Energy & Fuels, 34(2), 2160-2168. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.energyfuels.9b03700


The Mancos shale core sample investigated in the present research has been extracted from the late Cretaceous (upper cretaceous) geologic formation of USA. Shale gas is usually obtained by horizontal drilling which induces fractures to increase the flow ability of hydrocarbons. Therefore, it is important to understand the mechanical properties, heterogeneity, and their complexities associated with elastic properties of shale. An experimental study was conducted to examine the morphological characteristics of the Mancos shale core sample both pre-and post-treatment with cryogenic liquid nitrogen (LN2) for various immersion times, namely, 30, 60, and 90 min. The atomic force microscopy technique is used to understand the surface roughness, irregularities in core samples, and for more accuracy. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) results were employed to visualize the formation of cracks caused by cryogenic liquid nitrogen. Results from SEM showed an increase in the fracture size from 2 to 25 μm with an increase in the aging time up to 90 min under the atmosphere of cryogenic LN2. Nano-indentation measurements revealed that the nano-indentation moduli of the Mancos samples subjected to applied forces of 50 and 200 mN underwent a decrease from 24.6 to 16.8 and 15.6 GPa, respectively, with an increase in cryogenic liquid nitrogen treatment time to 90 min. The permeability of the shale samples after LN2 treatment showed a significant increase, whereas increasing net confining stress from 1000 to 7000 psi for all untreated and treated rock samples exhibited a decrease in permeability, which is attributed to increased compaction between the pore spaces. Moreover, the porosity of the Mancos shale increased from 3.78 to 6.92% for pretreated and treated rock samples. Copyright © 2020 American Chemical Society.