Molecular-Dynamics Study Examines Effect of Nanoparticles on Oil/Water Flow
- Adam Wilson (JPT Editorial Manager)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 148 - 151
- 2013. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- 185 since 2007
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This article, written by Editorial Manager Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 156995, "Effect of Nanoparticles on Oil/Water Flow in a Confined Nanochannel: A Molecular-Dynamics Study," by Jianyang Wu, Jianying He, Ole Torsæter, SPE, and Zhiliang Zhang, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, prepared for the 2012 SPE International Oilfield Nanotechnology Conference and Exhibition, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, 12-14 June. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
Experiments on oil/water nanoparticle flow behavior in confined clay nanochannels were conducted with molecular-dynamics simulations. Three sizes of nanochannels and different numbers of nanoparticles were considered. The results show that the pressure to drive the oil/water binary mixture through a periodic confined channel increases dramatically with the reduction of the channel size. In the absence of nanoparticles, the pressure increases with the propelled displacement. An opposite behavior is observed in the oil/water system mixed with a small amount of nanoparticles: The pressure decreases with the increase of the displacement. The findings from molecular-dynamics simulations may elucidate the role of nanoparticles in the transport of oil in nanoscale porous media.
One of the more promising applications of nanotechnology in the field of oil and gas, in particular for enhanced oil recovery and drilling, is the creation of a new generation of fluids. Nanofluids are a class of fluids engineered by dispersing nanoparticles (nanofibers, nanotubes, nanowires, or nanodrops) in base fluids. Nanofluids were first recognized because of their thermal properties.
The most commonly studied nanoparticles for enhanced oil recovery are the spherical silica nanoparticles with a diameter in the range of several to tens of nanometers. Functionalized nanoparticles can form a highly stable emulsion to determine the oil-saturation situation, improve the oil-flow mechanism, and identify the location of bypassed oil. Although the exact interface mechanisms are still unclear, it is generally expected that silica nanoparticles will also reduce the surface tension between oil and rock and enhance the depletion of oil from porous media. Before full-scale deployment of silica nanoparticles occurs, many issues remain to be resolved, such as how the particles behave in a reservoir and how to design the appropriate silica nanoparticles.
This study focused on the fundamental understanding of the role of silica nanoparticles in the oil/water binary mixture in a confined nanochannel.
Structure and Simulation Details
Rocks that are rich in kaolinite are known as kaolin clay. Kaolinite has the chemical composition Al4Si4O10(OH)8 (Fig. 1). Kaolinite is a layer clay with neutral charge, and the asymmetric structure allows the formation of hydrogen bonds between consecutive layers.
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