Towards the design of new and improved drilling fluid additives using molecular dynamics simulations

RL Anderson and HC Greenwell and JL Suter and RM Jarvis and PV Coveney, ANAIS DA ACADEMIA BRASILEIRA DE CIENCIAS, 82, 43-60 (2010).

During exploration for oil and gas, a technical drilling fluid is used to lubricate the drill bit, maintain hydrostatic pressure, transmit sensor readings, remove rock cuttings and inhibit swelling of unstable clay based reactive shale formations. Increasing environmental awareness and resulting legislation has led to the search for new, improved biodegradable drilling fluid components. In the case of additives for clay swelling inhibition, an understanding of how existing effective additives interact with clays must be gained to allow the design of improved molecules. Owing to the disordered nature and nanoscopic dimension of the interlayer pores of clay minerals, computer simulations have become an increasingly useful tool for studying clay-swelling inhibitor interactions. In this work we briefly review the history of the development of technical drilling fluids, the environmental impact of drilling fluids and the use of computer simulations to study the interactions between clay minerals and swelling inhibitors. We report on results from some recent large-scale molecular dynamics simulation studies on low molecular weight water-soluble macromolecular inhibitor molecules. The structure and interactions of poly(propylene oxide)-diamine, poly(ethylene glycol) and poly(ethylene oxide)-diacrylate inhibitor molecules with montmorillonite clay are studied.

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