Foam Generation Hysteresis in Porous Media: Experiments and New Insights


M. Lotfollahi, Kim, I., Beygi, M. R., Worthen, A. J., Huh, C., Johnston, K. P., Wheeler, M. F., and DiCarlo, D. A., “Foam Generation Hysteresis in Porous Media: Experiments and New Insights,” Transport in Porous Media, pp. 1-17, 2016.


Foam application in subsurface processes including environmental remediation, geological carbon-sequestration, and gas-injection enhanced oil recovery (EOR) has the potential to enhance contamination remediation, secure CO2">CO2CO2 storage, and improve oil recovery, respectively. Nanoparticles are a promising alternative to surfactants in creating foam in harsh environments. We conducted CO2">CO2CO2-in-brine foam generation experiments in Boise sandstones with surface-treated silica nanoparticle in high-salinity conditions. All the experiments were conducted at the fixed CO2">CO2CO2 volume fraction and fixed flow rate which changed in steps. The steady-state foam apparent viscosity was measured as a function of injection velocity. The foam flowing through the cores showed higher apparent viscosity as the flow rate increased from low to medium and high velocities. At very high velocities, once foam bubbles were finely textured, the foam apparent viscosity was governed by foam rheology rather than foam creation. A noticeable hysteresis occurred when the flow velocity was initially increased and then decreased, implying multiple (coarse and strong) foam states at the same superficial velocity. A normalized generation function was combined with CMG-STARS foam model to cover full spectrum of foam behavior in the experiments. The new model successfully captures foam generation and hysteresis trends in presented experiments in this study and data from the literature. The results indicate once foam is generated in porous media, it is possible to maintain strong foam at low injection rates. This makes foam more feasible in field applications where foam generation is limited by high injection rates that may only exist near the injection well.


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