Wettability alteration of oil-wet limestone using surfactant-nanoparticle formulation
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Wettability remains a prime factor that controls fluid displacement at pore-scale with substantial impact on multi-phase flow in the subsurface. As the rock surface becomes hydrophobic, any oleic phase present is tightly stored in the rock matrix and produced (hydrocarbon recovery) or cleaned up (soil-decontamination) by standard waterflooding methods. Although surface active agents such as surfactants have been used for several decades for changing the wetting states of such rocks, an aspect that has been barely premeditated is the simultaneous blends of surfactants and nanoparticles. This study thus, systematically reports the behaviour of surfactants augmented nanoparticles on wettability alteration. Contact angle, spontaneous imbibition, and mechanistic approaches were adopted to assess the technical feasibility of the newly formulated wetting agents, tested over wide-ranging conditions to ascertain efficient wetting propensities. The contact angle measurement is in good agreement with the morphological and topographical studies and spontaneous imbibition. The wetting trends for the formulated systems indicate advancing and receding water contact angle decreased with increase in nanoparticle concentration and temperature, and the spontaneous water imbibition test also showed faster water-imbibing tendencies for nanoparticle-surfactant exposed cores. Thus, the new formulated nanoparticle-surfactant systems were considered suitable for enhancing oil recovery and soil-decontamination, particularly in fractured hydrophobic reservoirs.
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