Optimizing the dispersion of coal fines using Sodium Dodecyl Benzene Sulfonate

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

SPE/AAPG/SEG Asia Pacific Unconventional Resources Technology Conference 2019, APUR 2019


Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTEC)


School of Engineering




Edith Cowan University, ECU Higher Education Commission, Pakistan, HEC: G1003450


Awan, F. U. R., Keshavarz, A., Akhondzadeh, H., Nosrati, A., Al-Anssari, S., & Iglauer, S. (2019). Optimizing the dispersion of coal fines using Sodium Dodecyl Benzene Sulfonate. In SPE/AAPG/SEG Asia Pacific Unconventional Resources Technology Conference. Unconventional Resources Technology Conference.



Coal fines are highly prone to be generated in all stages of Coal Seam Gas (CSG) production and development. These detached fines tend to aggregate, contributing to pore throat blockage and permeability reduction. Thus, this work explores the dispersion stability of coal fines in CSG reservoirs and proposes a new additive to be used in the formulation of the hydraulic fracturing fluid to keep the fines dispersed in the fluid. In this work, bituminous coal fines were tested in various suspensions in order to study their dispersion stability. The aggregation behavior of coal fines (dispersed phase) was analyzed in different dispersion mediums, including deionized-water, low and high sodium chloride solutions. Furthermore, the effect of Sodium Dodecyl Benzene Sulfonate (SDBS), an anionic surfactant, on fine aggregation in the suspensions was investigated over a wide alkaline range. At a known pH, the results of stability were validated with the proppant pack glass column test and further verified with microscopic images. It was observed that adding SDBS to the hydraulic fracturing fluid keeps the coal fines well-dispersed in the post-hydraulic fracturing flow back and prevents coal fines aggregation, and ultimately helps permeability enhancement. The results show that at a constant pH, as salinity increases, the zeta-potential (an indirect indicator of stability of the coal-water slurry) reduces. Also, a trace amount of SDBS substantially enhances the dispersion stability of coal fines. This enhancement dictates that coal fines will not congregate and will not plug the proppant pack. Furthermore, the results were confirmed by proppant pack glass-column tests and microscopic images, the result of which illustrate much less aggregation when having SDBS added to the suspension. Polymeric surfactants have been used in the field to disperse coal fines. However, it causes the coal matrix to swell and clog the pore throats, thus reducing the permeability. The anionic surfactant, SDBS, has never been tried in field applications to disperse coal fines. The current research demonstrates the considerable potential of SDBS, as a hydraulic fracturing fluid additive, in enhancing the dispersion stability of the coal fines. © 2019, Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC).



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