Improved oil recovery in nanopores: NanoIOR

JM de Almeida and CR Miranda, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 6, 28128 (2016).

DOI: 10.1038/srep28128

Fluid flow through minerals pores occurs in underground aquifers, oil and shale gas reservoirs. In this work, we explore water and oil flow through silica nanopores. Our objective is to model the displacement of water and oil through a nanopore to mimic the fluid infiltration on geological nanoporous media and the displacement of oil with and without previous contact with water by water flooding to emulate an improved oil recovery process at nanoscale (NanoIOR). We have observed a barrier-less infiltration of water and oil on the empty (vacuum) simulated 4 nm diameter nanopores. For the water displacement with oil, we have obtained a critical pressure of 600 atm for the oil infiltration, and after the flow was steady, a water layer was still adsorbed to the surface, thus, hindering the direct contact of the oil with the surface. In addition, oil displacement with water was assessed, with and without an adsorbed water layer (AWL). Without the AWL, the pressure needed for oil infiltration was 5000 atm, whereas, with the AWL the infiltration was observed for pressures as low as 10 atm. Hence, the infiltration is greatly affected by the AWL, significantly lowering the critical pressure for oil displacement.

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