Improved Mobility of Magnetite Nanoparticles at High Salinity with Polymers and Surfactants


A. A. Kmetz, Becker, M. D., Lyon, B. A., Foster, E., Xue, Z., Johnston, K. P., Abriola, L. M., and Pennell, K. D., “Improved Mobility of Magnetite Nanoparticles at High Salinity with Polymers and Surfactants,” Energy & Fuels, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 1915-1926, 2016.


Abstract Image

Engineered nanoparticles have been proposed for use as contrast agents to enhance geophysical characterization of oil and gas reservoirs. Under saline conditions and in the presence of fine materials, nanoparticle mobility in porous media can be severely limited. To address this issue, a series of column experiments was performed to evaluate the ability of selected polymers and surfactants to enhance the transport of magnetite nanoparticles (nMag) coated with cross-linked polymers in the presence of American Petroleum Institute (API) brine (8 wt % NaCl + 2 wt % CaCl2). Aqueous suspensions containing nMag and API brine were injected at pore-water velocities of 2 ± 0.04 m/day or 10 ± 0.40 m/day through columns packed with either 40–50 mesh Ottawa sand or 60–170 mesh crushed Berea sandstone. When nMag (2500 mg/L) was introduced into Ottawa sand, 97% of the injected mass was recovered in the column effluent, indicating high mobility under saline conditions. However, the injection of nMag (2500 mg/L) into crushed Berea sandstone resulted in >60% nMag retention within the column. In order to improve delivery, nMag (2500 mg/L) was co-injected with 1000 mg/L hydroxyethyl cellulose (HEC-10), which increased nMag mobility 2-fold (78% effluent recovery). Co-injection of nMag with 1000 mg/L Gum Arabic or Calfax 16L-35, an anionic surfactant, resulted in slightly lower effluent recoveries of 72% and 69%, respectively. A preflood with 1000 mg/L HEC-10, followed by the injection of nMag alone (2500 mg/L), yielded an additional 20% improvement in nMag mobility (93% effluent recovery), suggesting that HEC-10 screened nMag attachment sites. A multisite nanoparticle transport model that accounts for heterogeneous mineralogy with variable attachment kinetics was able to accurately reproduce the effluent concentration data. Coupled with the observed 7-fold reduction in maximum retention capacity, the model parameter fits provide further evidence to support a site-blocking mechanism. These findings demonstrate the potential for relatively small additions (0.1%) of commercially available polymers and surfactants to greatly improve nMag mobility in porous media


Publisher's Version