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Effect of surfactant concentration on foam texture and flow characteristics in porous media

Li, Binfei, Li, Haifeng, Cao, Aiqing, Wang, Fei
Colloids and surfaces 2019 v.560 pp. 189-197
absorption, bubbles, colloids, flow resistance, foaming, foams, liquids, oils, porous media, seepage, surface tension, surfactants, texture
Foam has been widely used for profile control, water plugging, and gas channeling control in enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Because of absorption, the surfactant concentration in foam decreases along the flow direction. In this study, the effects of surfactant concentration on the foam texture, foam seepage characteristics, and gas saturation were evaluated by core-flow experiments using a high-pressure visualization device. The results show that the surface tension of gas and liquid decreases, the flow resistance in core increases, and the foam takes a longer time to reach stability with the increase in concentration of foaming agent. The blocking capability of foam in porous media is closely related to foam texture. With the increase in surfactant concentration, the average diameter of bubbles in porous media decreases, and the bubbles are more uniform. Moreover, the diameter of bubbles is closer to the average pore diameter of core. Clearly, the diameter matching degree of the maximum distribution frequency of bubbles and the average pore diameter of core increase. Therefore, the blocking capability of foam becomes stronger. With the increase in surfactant concentration, the proportion of trapped gas in porous media increases, the gas saturation in core increases, and the flow resistance of foam increases. However, when the surfactant concentration reaches the critical value, the increasing amplitude of gas saturation decreases. Under an injected foam quality of 50%, the gas saturation is more than 80%. The research results can help to analyze the change along the channel of foam flow in formation and are of great significance to improve the effect of foam application.