Adsorption of Aqueous Crude Oil Components on the Basal Surfaces of Clay Minerals: Molecular Simulations Including Salinity and Temperature Effects

JA Greathouse and RT Cygan and JT Fredrich and GR Jerauld, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 121, 22773-22786 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b06454

Molecular simulations of the adsorption of representative organic molecules onto,the basal surfaces of various clay minerals were used to assess the mechanisms of enhanced oil recovery associated with salinity changes and water flooding. Simulations at the density functional theory (DFT) and classical levels provide insights into the molecular structure, binding energy, and interfacial behavior of saturate, aromatic, and resin molecules near clay mineral surfaces. Periodic DFT calculations reveal binding geometries and ion pairing mechanisms at mineral surfaces while also providing a basis for validating the classical force field approach. Through classical molecular dynamics simulations, the influence of aqueous cations at the interface and the role of water solvation are examined to better evaluate the dynamical nature of cation-organic complexes and their coadsorption onto the clay surfaces. The extent of adsorption is controlled by the hydrophilic nature and layer charge of the clay mineral. All organic species studied showed preferential adsorption on hydrophobic mineral surfaces. However, the anionic form of the resin (decahydro-2-naphthoic-acid), expected to be prevalent at near-neutral pH conditions in petroleum reservoirs, readily adsorbs to the hydrophilic kaolinite surface through a combination of cation pairing and hydrogen bonding with surface hydroxyl groups. Analysis of cation-organic pairing in both the adsorbed and desorbed states reveals a strong preference for organic anions to coordinate with divalent calcium ions rather than monovalent sodium ions, lending support to current theories regarding low-salinity water flooding.

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