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Energies 2011, 4(7), 1058-1086; doi:10.3390/en4071058

Stability Proxies for Water-in-Oil Emulsions and Implications in Aqueous-based Enhanced Oil Recovery

Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Wyoming, Dept. 3295, 1000 E. University Ave, Laramie, WY 82071, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 25 May 2011 / Revised: 1 July 2011 / Accepted: 12 July 2011 / Published: 18 July 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Oil Recovery)
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Several researchers have proposed that mobility control mechanisms can positively contribute to oil recovery in the case of emulsions generated in Enhanced-Oil Recovery (EOR) operations. Chemical EOR techniques that use alkaline components or/and surfactants are known to produce undesirable emulsions that create operational problems and are difficult to break. Other water-based methods have been less studied in this sense. EOR processes such as polymer flooding and LoSalTM injection require adjustments of water chemistry, mainly by lowering the ionic strength of the solution or by decreasing hardness. The decreased ionic strength of EOR solutions can give rise to more stable water-in-oil emulsions, which are speculated to improve mobility ratio between the injectant and the displaced oil. The first step toward understanding the connection between the emulsions and EOR mechanisms is to show that EOR conditions, such as salinity and hardness requirements, among others, are conducive to stabilizing emulsions. In order to do this, adequate stability proxies are required. This paper reviews commonly used emulsion stability proxies and explains the advantages and disadvantage of methods reviewed. This paper also reviews aqueous-based EOR processes with focus on heavy oil to contextualize in-situ emulsion stabilization conditions. This context sets the basis for comparison of emulsion stability proxies. View Full-Text
Keywords: emulsions; enhanced-oil recovery; low salinity; chemical flooding; mobility control emulsions; enhanced-oil recovery; low salinity; chemical flooding; mobility control

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Alvarado, V.; Wang, X.; Moradi, M. Stability Proxies for Water-in-Oil Emulsions and Implications in Aqueous-based Enhanced Oil Recovery. Energies 2011, 4, 1058-1086.

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