Flow of Emulsions in Porous Media
- Mao Ilich Romero (PUC-RIO)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, 4-7 October, New Orleans, Louisiana
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2009. This paper was presented as part of the student paper contest associatedwith the 2009 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition.
- 1.8 Formation Damage, 1.6.9 Coring, Fishing, 4.3.3 Aspaltenes, 4.3.4 Scale, 5.7.2 Recovery Factors, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 1.10 Drilling Equipment
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Flow of emulsion in porous media plays an important role in many enhanced oil recovery processes. Drops may partially block pore passages leading to a better sweep of the reservoir. Despite all the efforts, the detailed mechanism of how emulsions flow through the pore space is not completely understood. Modeling the flow of emulsion in porous media is extremely challenging. In many situations the size of the dispersed phase drops is in the same order of magnitude of the pore throats. Therefore, in the pore scale the emulsion cannot be described as a single phase liquid with an effective viscosity.
In this work we analyze the flow of emulsion in porous media by experiments and a capillary network model. The model is based on the flow rate-pressure drop relation of emulsion flow through constricted capillaries, which is a function of the capillary number of the flow, liquid properties and the ratio of drop to capillary throat diameter. The capillary network modeling was constructed in order to obtain macroscopic parameters from microscopic flow behavior.
The results show how the permeability changes with Darcy velocity. At low flow rates, the large drops partially block the smallest pores, leading to a low permeability. At high flow rates, the pressure gradient in each capillary is strong enough to force the drops to flow through the constrictions. Consequently, the permeability rises with capillary number. The results agree well to experimental measurements in sandstone cores.
Keywords: Pore-scale modeling; Emulsion; Capillary Network Model.
Transport of emulsions through porous media is relevant to several subsurface applications. Emulsions play an important role in many EOR processes. If the dispersed phase drops flow through the pore space such that they can partially block the already swept more permeable paths, they could divert the flow of injected water to unswept regions, leading to more efficient reservoir sweep and higher recovery factor. Seright and Liang  review the advantages and disadvantages of different blocking agents, including emulsions. They conclude the emulsion could approach properties similar to low viscosity gelant. Thomas and Ali  carried out experimental investigation of the injection of oil-in-water and water-in-oil emulsion in porous media. They concluded that the mobility of emulsions is strongly dependent on its drop size distribution, quality and rheology for a given pore size distribution.
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