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Polymers 2018, 10(8), 857;

Effect of Polymer Degradation on Polymer Flooding in Heterogeneous Reservoirs

College of Petroleum Engineering, China University of Petroleum, Beijing 102249, China
College of Petroleum Engineering, Yangtze University, Wuhan 430100, China
Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 July 2018 / Revised: 30 July 2018 / Accepted: 31 July 2018 / Published: 2 August 2018
PDF [6034 KB, uploaded 2 August 2018]


Polymer degradation is critical for polymer flooding because it can significantly influence the viscosity of a polymer solution, which is a dominant property for polymer enhanced oil recovery (EOR). In this work, physical experiments and numerical simulations were both used to study partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) degradation and its effect on polymer flooding in heterogeneous reservoirs. First, physical experiments were conducted to determine basic physicochemical properties of the polymer, including viscosity and degradation. Notably, a novel polymer dynamic degradation experiment was recommended in the evaluation process. Then, a new mathematical model was proposed and an in-house three-dimensional (3D) two-phase polymer flooding simulator was designed to examine both polymer static and dynamic degradation. The designed simulator was validated by comparison with the simulation results obtained from commercial software and the results from the polymer flooding experiments. This simulator further investigated and validated polymer degradation and its effect. The results of the physical experiments showed that the viscosity of a polymer solution increases with an increase in polymer concentration, demonstrating their underlying power law relationship. Moreover, the viscosity of a polymer solution with the same polymer concentration decreases with an increase in the shear rate, demonstrating shear thinning. Furthermore, the viscosity of a polymer solution decreased with an increase in time due to polymer degradation, exhibiting an exponential relationship. The first-order dynamic degradation rate constant of 0.0022 day−1 was greater than the first-order static degradation rate constant of 0.0017 day−1. According to the simulation results for the designed simulator, a 7.7% decrease in oil recovery, after a cumulative injection volume of 1.67 pore volume (PV) was observed between the first-order dynamic degradation rate constants of 0 and 0.1 day−1, which indicates that polymer degradation has a detrimental effect on polymer flooding efficiency. View Full-Text
Keywords: polymer flooding; degradation; heterogeneous reservoir; numerical simulation polymer flooding; degradation; heterogeneous reservoir; numerical simulation

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Xin, X.; Yu, G.; Chen, Z.; Wu, K.; Dong, X.; Zhu, Z. Effect of Polymer Degradation on Polymer Flooding in Heterogeneous Reservoirs. Polymers 2018, 10, 857.

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