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Coreflood Study of Effect of Surfactant Concentration on Foam Generation in Porous Media

Yu, G., Rossen, W.R., Vincent-Bonnieu, S.
Industrial & engineering chemistry process design and development 2018 v.58 no.1 pp. 420-427
colloids, field experimentation, foams, liquids, mathematical theory, micelles, models, nitrogen, oil fields, porous media, process design, sandstone, screening, surfactants
The propagation of foam in an oil reservoir depends on the creation and stability of the foam in the reservoir, specifically the creation and stability of foam films, or lamellae. As the foam propagates far from the injection well, superficial velocity and pressure gradient decrease with distance from the well. Experimental (Friedmann et al. Steam-foam mechanistic field trial in the midway-sunset field. SPERE. 1994, 9 (4), 297–304) and theoretical (Ashoori, et al. Roles of Transient and Local Equilibrium Foam Behaviour in Porous Media: Traveling Wave. Colloids Surf. A 2011, 337 (1–3), 228–242). studies relate concerns about foam propagation at low superficial velocity to the minimum velocity or pressure gradient for foam generation near the well (Gauglitz et al. Foam Generation in Homogeneous Porous Media. Chem. Eng. Sci. 2002, 57, 4037–4052; Rossen et al. Percolation Theory of Creation and Mobilization of Foams in Porous Media. AI Chem Eng. J. 1990, 36, (8)). The objective of this work is to measure the impact of surfactant concentration and gas fractional flow on foam generation. Theory (Kam et al. Model for Foam Generation in Homogeneous Media. SPE J. 2003, 8 (4): 417–42, SPE-87334-PA; Rossen 1990) relates foam generation to gas fractional flow and, indirectly, to the stability of foam films, or lamellae, which in turn depends on surfactant concentration (Apaydin et al. Surfactant Concentration and End Effects on Foam Flow in Porous Media. (Apaydin et al.Transp Porous Media. 2001, 43, 511–536). However, the link between foam generation and surfactant concentration has not been established experimentally. In our experiments, nitrogen foam is generated in a core of Bentheimer sandstone. The foam-generation experiments consist of measuring the minimum velocity for foam generation as a function of gas fractional flow at three surfactant concentrations well above the critical micelle concentration. Experimental results show that the minimum velocity for foam generation decreases with increasing liquid fraction, as shown by previous foam generation studies (Friedmann et al., 1994; Rossen and Gauglitz, 1990). Additionally, our results show that this velocity decreases with increasing surfactant concentration, far above the CMC. We also propose a workflow for screening out the experimental artifacts that can distort the trigger velocity.