In recent years, unconventional oils have shown a huge potential for exploitation. Abundant reserves of carbonate asphalt rocks with a high oil content have been found; however, heavy oil and carbonate minerals have a high interaction force, which makes oil-solid separation difficult when
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In recent years, unconventional oils have shown a huge potential for exploitation. Abundant reserves of carbonate asphalt rocks with a high oil content have been found; however, heavy oil and carbonate minerals have a high interaction force, which makes oil-solid separation difficult when using traditional methods. Although previous studies have used nanofluids or surfactant alone to enhance oil recovery, the minerals were sandstones. For carbonate asphalt rocks, there is little research on the synergistic effect of nanofluids and surfactants on heavy oil recovery by hot-water-based extraction. In this study, we used nanofluids and surfactants to enhance oil recovery from carbonate asphalt rocks synergistically based on the HWBE process. In order to explore the synergistic mechanism, the alterations of wettability due to the use of nanofluids and surfactants were studied. Nanofluids alone could render the oil-wet calcite surface hydrophilic, and the resulting increase in hydrophilicity of calcite surfaces treated with different nanofluids followed the order of SiO2
> MgO > TiO2
. The concentration, salinity, and temperature of nanofluids influenced the oil-wet calcite wettability, and for SiO2
nanofluids, the optimal nanofluid concentration was 0.2 wt%; the optimal salinity was 3 wt%; and the contact angle decreased as the temperature increased. Furthermore, the use of surfactants alone made the oil-wet calcite surface more hydrophilic, according to the following order: sophorolipid (45.9°) > CTAB (49°) > rhamnolipid (53.4°) > TX-100 (58.4°) > SDS (67.5°). The elemental analysis along with AFM and SEM characterization showed that nanoparticles were adsorbed onto the mineral surface, resulting in greater hydrophilicity of the oil-wet calcite surface, and the roughness was related to the wettability. Surfactant molecules could aid in the release of heavy oil from the calcite surface, which exposes the uncovered calcite surface to its surroundings; additionally, some surfactants adsorbed onto the oil-wet calcite surface, and the combined role made the oil-wet calcite surface hydrophilic. In conclusion, the study showed that hybrid nanofluids showed a better effect on wettability alteration, and the use of nanofluids and surfactants together resulted in synergistic alteration of oil-wet calcite surface wettability.