Investigation of wettability alteration by silica nanoparticles through advanced surface-wetting visualization techniques

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Investigation of wettability alteration by silica nanoparticles through advanced surface-wetting visualization techniques
Title:
Investigation of wettability alteration by silica nanoparticles through advanced surface-wetting visualization techniques
Journal Title:
SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition
Keywords:
Publication Date:
30 September 2019
Citation:
Li, S. D.; Dan, D.; Lau, H. C.; Hadia, N. J.; Torsæter, O.; Stubbs, L. P., Investigation of wettability alteration by silica nanoparticles through advanced surface-wetting visualization techniques. In Proceedings of the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Society of Petroleum Engineers: Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Sep 30 - 2 Oct 2019; DOI: 10.2118/196192-MS.
Abstract:
Altering the wetting state of a rock surface to more water-wet has been proposed as an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) mechanism for nanoparticles. However, how nanoparticles achieve this is not well understood. The objective of this study is to fill this knowledge gap by using advanced 2D and 3D visualization techniques. In this study, advanced visualization techniques were used to study how hydrophilic silica nanoparticles change the wettability of a glass surface. First, we used interferograms of an oil drop resting on a nanoparticle-treated glass surface to analyze the effect of nanoparticles on wettability. Second, we used Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) to characterize the structure of nanoparticles covering a glass surface. Third, we used a 2D microfluidic apparatus to visualize wettability alteration caused by the nanoparticle injection. Fourth, we used a fluoresence imaging method with confocal microscopy to find out the reason for this change. Interferograms of a nanoparticle-treated glass surface showed bright and dark fringes, indicating the presence of a thin water film covering the glass surface caused by nanoparticle adsorption. Furthermore, the higher the nanoparticle concentration, the thicker was the nanoparticle adsorption layer. A low pH environment can reduce nanoparticle adsorption on the glass surface. AFM results showed that the topography of the glass surface changed from smooth to rough after nanoparticle treatment. Microfluidic experiments showed that nanoparticle injection changed the wettability of the grain surface to more water wet. By using a confocal microscopy, we observed a thin water film covering the surface of glass grains suggesting that nanoparticle adsorption is the main mechanism of wettability alteration by nanoparticles. This paper presents findings of new techniques to study wettability alteration by nanoparticles, including thin-film interferometry, surface characterization by AFM, and fluoresence imaging with confocal microscopy. Observations showed that nanoparticles adsorption on a glass surface results in a thin water film that prevents the oil from contacting the surface. This is the main mechanism of wettability alteration by nanoparticles. This is the first time use of these advanced visualization techniques to study wettability alteration by nanoparticles is reported.
License type:
PublisherCopyrights
Funding Info:
This work was supported by the Industry Alignment Fund - Pre-Positioning Programme (IAF-PP) of Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) (A18B4a0094).
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