Effects of Mineral Surface Properties on Supercritical CO2 Wettability in a Siliciclastic Reservoir


J. Botto, Fuchs, S. J., Fouke, B. W., Clarens, A. F., Freiburg, J. T., Berger, P. M., and Werth, C. J., “Effects of Mineral Surface Properties on Supercritical CO2 Wettability in a Siliciclastic Reservoir,” Energy & Fuels, vol. 31, no. 5, pp. 5275-5285, 2017.


Wettability is a key reservoir characteristic influencing geological carbon sequestration (GCS) processes, such as CO2 transport and storage capacity. Wettability is often determined on a limited number of reservoir samples by measuring the contact angle at the CO2/brine/mineral interface, but the ability to predict this value remains a challenge. In this work, minerals comprising a natural reservoir sample were identified, and the influence of their surface roughness and mineralogy on the contact angle was quantified to evaluate predictive models and controlling mechanisms. The natural sample was obtained from the Mount Simon formation, a representative siliciclastic reservoir that is the site of a United States Department of Energy CO2 injection project. A thin section of the Mount Simon sandstone was examined with compound light microscopy and environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). Quartz and feldspar were identified as dominant minerals and were coated with various reddish black precipitates consistent with illite clay and iron oxide hematite. Contact angle (θ) measurements were conducted for the four representative minerals and the Mount Simon sample over a range of pressures (2–25 MPa) at 40 °C. At supercritical conditions, all samples are strongly water-wet, with contact angles between 27° and 45°. Several predictive models for contact angle were evaluated for the mineral and Mount Simon samples, including the Wenzel and Cassie–Baxter models, plus newly proposed modifications of these that account for the fraction of different minerals comprising the reservoir sample surface, the surface roughness, and the extent that roughness pits are filled with brine. Modeling results suggest that the fraction of mineral surfaces containing roughness pits filled with brine is the most important reservoir characteristic that controls wettability in the Mount Simon sandstone, followed by surface mineralogy. To our knowledge, this is one of the few studies to investigate the effects of individual minerals on the wettability of a natural reservoir sample.


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