Main content area

Enhanced oil displacement by nanofluid’s structural disjoining pressure in model fractured porous media

Zhang, Hua, Ramakrishnan, T.S., Nikolov, Alex, Wasan, Darsh
Journal of colloid and interface science 2018 v.511 pp. 48-56
micro-computed tomography, models, nanofluids, oils, porous media, wettability
Nanofluids for improved oil recovery has been demonstrated through laboratory corefloods. Despite numerous experimental studies, little is known about the efficacy of nanofluids in fractured systems. Here, we present studies of nanofluid injection in fractured porous media (both water-wet and oil-wet) formed by sintering borosilicate glass-beads around a dissolvable substrate. The fracture inside the porous medium is characterized and visualized using a high resolution X-ray microtomography. Based on a simple displacement theory, the nanofluid injection is conducted at a rate where structural disjoining pressure driven oil recovery is operational. An additional 23.8% oil was displaced using nanofluid after brine injection with an overall recovery efficiency of 90.4% provided the matrix was in its native wettability state. But only 6% additional oil was displaced by nanofluid following brine injection when the bead-pack was rendered oil-wet. Nanofluids appear to be a good candidate for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in fractured water-wet to weakly water-wet media but not necessarily for strongly oil-wet systems. Our laboratory studies enable us to understand limitations of nanofluids for improving oil recovery in fractured media.