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Michael A. Nilsson, Jonathan P. Rothstein
Effect of fluid rheology and sandstone permeability on enhanced oil recovery in a microfluidic sandstone device

Appl. Rheol. 25:2 (2015) 25189 (11 pages)

Maximizing oil recovery from current reserves is becoming more important as global usage continues to rise. In this paper, we present the development of two microfluidic sandstone devices of high complexity and differing permeability capable of quickly and inexpensively testing the oil recovery performance of fluids with different rheological properties. Our initial baseline experiments were performed by displacing oil with water over a wide range of flow rates. Next, a commercially available fluid thickener, Flopaam 3630, was tested. Flopaam is both shear thinning and viscoelastic and was found, due primarily to its large viscosity, to recover more oil than the water and increase the oil recovery substantially in both the larger and smaller permeability microfluidic sandstone devices. Finally, a shear-thickening nanoparticle solution was studied. The shear-thickening solution was designed to thicken at a shear rate of about 10 s-1, a typical shear rate in the oil reservoirs. These shearthickening fluids were found to be an excellent enhanced oil recovery fluid, especially when the shear rates within the microfluidic sandstone devices closely matched the shear rates associated with the shear-thickening regime. For the high permeability sandstone devices tested, when the appropriate choice of shear-rate-dependent viscosity was used to define a capillary number, the oil recovery obtained from both the Newtonian and non-Newtonian fluids were found to collapse quite well onto a single master curve. This, however, was not the case for the lowest permeability sandstone devices where the increased complexity was found to negatively affect the performance of the viscoelastic fluid when compared to either the Newtonian or the shear-thickening fluid. Finally, it was shown that these oil recovery results are insensitive to whether a single-stage recovery process or a more complex two-stage recovery process that starts with an initial water flood followed by a flood with a secondary fluid were used.

Cite this publication as follows:
Nilsson MA, Rothstein JP: Effect of fluid rheology and sandstone permeability on enhanced oil recovery in a microfluidic sandstone device, Appl. Rheol. 25 (2015) 25189.


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