Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, Vol.56, No.30, 8528-8534, 2017
Silica Nanoparticle Enhancement in the Efficiency of Surfactant Flooding of Heavy Oil in a Glass Micromodel
The synergistic effects of fumed-Si nanoparticles (Si-NPs) in combination with sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) surfactant as suitable agents for oil displacing in enhanced oil recovery (EOR) are evaluated using a 5-spot glass micromodel. Optimum oil recovery (45%) is obtained for SDS near the critical micelle concentration; however, the addition of fumed silica nanoparticles (Si-NPs) enables a further 13% enhancement in oil recovery for the maximum concentration of the SDS/Si-NPs (2.2 wt %) as well as delaying the breakthrough point. The optimum mass ratio of SDS:Si-NP (1:11) suggests that the Si-NPs are aggregated by the SDS micelles, consistent with increased viscosity upon addition of Si-NPs. The presence of the Si-NPs also greatly increases the wettability on the glass surface with a decrease in the contact angle from 73 for SDS (1800 ppm) to 11 degrees for SDS/Si-NPs (1800 ppm/2.0 wt %). The effective changes in the oil sweeping mechanism are directly observed in the glass micromodel and correlate to these physical measurements. The results demonstrated that addition of Si -NPs to SDS solutions made a significant improvement to oil recovery values and is potentially beneficial in EOR applications.