Multiphase Microemulsion Systems
- R.N. Healy (Exxon Production Research Co.) | R.L. Reed (Exxon Production Research Co.) | D.G. Stenmark (Exxon Research And Engineering Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- June 1976
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 147 - 160
- 1976. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.4.10 Microbial Methods
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Economical microemulsion flooding inevitably involves microemulsion phases immiscible with oil or water, or both; oil recovery is largely affected by displacement efficiency during the immiscible regime. Therefore, it is essential to understand the role of interfacial tension in relation to multiphase microemulsion behavior.
Three basic types of multiphase systems are identified and used to label phase transitions that occur when changes are made in salinity, temperature, oil composition, surfactant structure, cosolvent, and dissolved solids in the aqueous phase. Directional effects of these changes on phase behavior, interfacial tension, and solubilization parameter are tabulated for the alkyl aryl sufonates studied.
A relationship between interfacial tension and phase behavior is established. This provides the phase behavior is established. This provides the basis for a convenient method for preliminary screening of surfactants for oil recovery.
Interfacial tensions were found to correlate with the solubilization parameter for the various microemulsion phases, a result that can substantially reduce the number of interfacial tensions that must be determined experimentally for a given application.
A previous paper established that microemulsion flooding is a locally miscible process until slug breakdown and is an immiscible, rate-dependent displacement thereafter; furthermore, for an effective flood, most of the oil recovered is acquired during the immiscible regime. An extensive study of single-phase regions defined classes of micellar structures for a particular surfactant; however, it was subsequently shown these did not affect oil recovery, provided viscous, lamellar structures were avoided. Optimal salinity was introduced as defining a ternary diagram having the least extensive multiphase region, a desirable feature in that locally miscible displacement is prolonged.
Immiscible displacement after slug breakdown is known to depend on interfacial tension through its inclusion in the capillary number. A brief study showed chat interfacial tension varied widely throughout the multiphase region; accordingly, it is anticipated that oil recovery will depend on details of multiphase behavior in relation to interfacial tension, as well as on injection composition.
Consider a flood sufficiently advanced that the microemulsion slug has broken down. A microemulsion phase remains that is immiscible with water or oil, phase remains that is immiscible with water or oil, or both, and displacement has assumed an immiscible character. The problem is twofold: to design a microemulsion slug that effectively displaces oil at the front and that is effectively displaced by water at the back. Both aspects are essential and, therefore, both microemulsion-oil and microemulsion-water interfacial tensions must be very low. The condition where these two tensions are low and equal will be of particular significance.
The purpose of this paper is to explore physicochemical properties of multiphase physicochemical properties of multiphase microemulsion systems with a view toward understanding immiscible aspects of microemulsion flooding, and with the expectation of developing systematic screening procedures useful for design of optimal floods.
Equilibration is an essential part of this study. Even the simplest of these systems is so complex it may well happen that nonequilibrium effects will never be understood sufficiently to be usefully accommodated in mathematical simulation of microemulsion flooding. In any event, equilibration, although time consuming, leads to a coherent picture of multiphase behavior that can be correlated with flooding results.
Multiphase behavior of "simple" ternary systems divides into three basic classes. Dependence of phase behavior on salinity, with respect to these phase behavior on salinity, with respect to these classes, leads to correlations of interfacial tension with the solubilization parameter. These correlations are studied in relation to surfactant structure, temperature, cosolvents, oil composition, and brine composition. Optimal salinity again plays an important role, especially in relation to interfacial tension.
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