Special Issue "Application of Nanoparticles for Oil Recovery"

A special issue of Nanomaterials (ISSN 2079-4991).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 August 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Ole Torsaeter
Guest Editor
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
Interests: fundamentals of flow in porous media; experimental reservoir engineering; routine and special core analysis; use of microfluidics in reservoir engineering research; enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods; nanofluids for EOR; wettability of reservoir rocks; measurements of wettability; alteration of wettability; interaction of nanoparticles with porous materials; pore scale studies of EOR processes by micro-CT

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Due to their large surface-area-to-volume ratio and enhanced chemical reactivity, nanoparticles have attracted interest among researchers in the upstream petroleum industry for oil recovery applications. Nanoparticles have been studied as additives to waterflooding from day one of production as well as additives at later-stage waterflooding (secondary and tertiary recoveries). Many types of nanoparticles have been tested, and the aims of the nanoparticles have been either to reduce the mobility of the injected fluid relative to that of oil or to increase the ratio of viscous to interfacial forces (i.e., capillary number).

The research on nanotechnology for oil recovery has shown potential, but the mechanisms for oil recovery are not fully understood. Studies on the use of surface-functionalized particles for special reservoir rock and fluid properties and reservoir conditions might be the way forward for understanding the mechanisms involved. Our improved ability to study multiphase flow in porous media on pore scale by using microfluidics and micro-CT equipment will also be important for the development of  nanotechnology for oil recovery.

This Special Issue welcomes the submission of original research papers and comprehensive reviews that demonstrate or summarize significant advances in the understanding of recovery mechanisms by using nanoparticles in oil recovery. Example topics include: pore scale analysis, mechanisms of recovery due to nanoparticles, adsorption and transport of nanoparticles, wettability alteration, interfacial tension reduction, modelling of nano-EOR processes, and nanoparticles together with other EOR agents.

Prof. Ole Torsaeter
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • nanoparticles
  • enhanced oil recovery
  • mobility control
  • interfacial tension
  • wettability alteration
  • adsorption and transport of nanoparticles
  • modelling of nano-EOR processes
  • nanoparticles combined with other EOR methods

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Insights into the Effects of Pore Size Distribution on the Flowing Behavior of Carbonate Rocks: Linking a Nano-Based Enhanced Oil Recovery Method to Rock Typing
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(5), 972; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10050972 - 18 May 2020
As a fixed reservoir rock property, pore throat size distribution (PSD) is known to affect the distribution of reservoir fluid saturation strongly. This study aims to investigate the relations between the PSD and the oil–water relative permeabilities of reservoir rock with a focus [...] Read more.
As a fixed reservoir rock property, pore throat size distribution (PSD) is known to affect the distribution of reservoir fluid saturation strongly. This study aims to investigate the relations between the PSD and the oil–water relative permeabilities of reservoir rock with a focus on the efficiency of surfactant–nanofluid flooding as an enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technique. For this purpose, mercury injection capillary pressure (MICP) tests were conducted on two core plugs with similar rock types (in respect to their flow zone index (FZI) values), which were selected among more than 20 core plugs, to examine the effectiveness of a surfactant–nanoparticle EOR method for reducing the amount of oil left behind after secondary core flooding experiments. Thus, interfacial tension (IFT) and contact angle measurements were carried out to determine the optimum concentrations of an anionic surfactant and silica nanoparticles (NPs) for core flooding experiments. Results of relative permeability tests showed that the PSDs could significantly affect the endpoints of the relative permeability curves, and a large amount of unswept oil could be recovered by flooding a mixture of the alpha olefin sulfonate (AOS) surfactant + silica NPs as an EOR solution. Results of core flooding tests indicated that the injection of AOS + NPs solution in tertiary mode could increase the post-water flooding oil recovery by up to 2.5% and 8.6% for the carbonate core plugs with homogeneous and heterogeneous PSDs, respectively. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Nanoparticles for Oil Recovery)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The Effect of Wettability and Flow Rate on Oil Displacement using Polymer-Coated Silica Nanoparticles: a Microfluidic Study
Authors: Mohamed Omran 1,*, Salem Akarri 1, and Ole Torseater 1
Affiliation: NTNU 1
Abstract: Polymer-coated silica nanoparticles (PSiNPs) have been experimentally investigated in core- and micro-scale studies for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Wettability and flow rate have a considerable effect on oil displacement in porous media. This work investigates the efficiency of PSiNPs for oil recovery on micro-scale at three wettability states (water-wet, intermediate-wet, and oil-wet). In addition, a cluster mobilization regime is considered in all experiments. A microfluidic approach was utilized to perform flooding experiments with constant experimental settings such as flowrate, pore-structure, initial oil topology, porosity, and permeability. In this study, the wettability of the microfluidic chips was altered to have three states of wettability. Firstly, a micro-scale study (brine-oil-glass system) of each wettability condition effect on flow behavior was conducted via monitoring dynamic changes in the oleic phase. Secondly, the obtained results were used as a basis to understand the changes induced by the PSiNPs while flooding at the same conditions. The experimental data were extracted by means of image processing and analysis at a high spatial and temporal resolution. Low-rate experiments in a brine-oil-glass system showed that the waterflood invaded with a more stable front with a slower displacement velocity in the water-wet state compared to the other states, which had water channeling through the big pores. As a result, a faster stop of the dynamic changes for the intermediate- and oil-wet state was observed, leading to lower oil recoveries compared to the water-wet state. In a cluster mobilization regime, dynamic changes were noticeable only for the oil-wet condition. For the aforementioned different conditions, PSiNPs improved oil displacement efficiency. The usage of PSiNPs showed a better clusterization efficiency, leading to a higher mobilization, smaller remaining oil clusters, and lower connectivity of the residual oil. The knowledge from this experimental work adds to the understanding of the behavior of polymer-coated silica nanoparticles as a recovery agent at different wettability states and a cluster mobilization regime.

Title: Experimental Investigation of Stability of Silica Nanoparticles at Reservoir Conditions for Enhanced Oil Recovery Applications
Authors: Shidong Li1 Ng Yeap Hung1 Hon Chung Lau1,2 Ole Torsæter3,4 Ludger P. Stubbs1
Affiliation: 1: Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore. 2: Department of Civil and Environment Engineering, National University of Singapore, 3: PoreLab, Norwegian Center of Excellence, 4: Department of Geoscience and Petroleum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Abstract: To be effective enhanced oil recovery (EOR) agents, nanoparticles must be stable and transported through the reservoir. However, the stability of a nanoparticle suspension at reservoir salinity and temperature is still a challenge and how it is affected by reservoir rock and crude oil is not well understood. The objective of this study is to investigate ways to stabilize nanoparticle suspensions at reservoir conditions for EOR applications. The stability of nanoparticle suspensions was screened in test tubes at 70°C and 3.8 wt. % salinity in the presence of rock and crude oil. Rock and oil samples used included Berea sandstones, shale, chalk, and limestone and crudes with different properties. Fumed silica nanoparticles in suspension with hydrochloric acid (HCl), polymer modified fumed nanoparticles and amide functionalized silica colloidal nanoparticles were studied. The size and pH of nanoparticle suspension in contact with rock samples were measured to determine the mechanisms for stabilization or destabilization of nanoparticles. A turbidity scanner was used to quantify stability of nanoparticle suspension. Results showed that both HCl and polymer surface modification can improve nanoparticles stability under synthetic seawater salinity and 70°C. Suspensions of polymer modified nanoparticles were stable for months. It was found that pH is a key parameter influencing nanoparticle stability. Rock samples with carbonate destabilized unmodified nanoparticles. Crude oils have limited effect on nanoparticles stability and no obvious trend was observed. Some components of crude oil migrated into the aqueous phase consisting of amide functionalized silica colloidal nanoparticles suspension. This is the first time the effect of rock and crude oil on the stability of silica nanoparticle suspension has been reported. The feasibility of using a low pH environment to stabilize a nanoparticle suspension in a porous medium will be further investigated. This study constitutes part of a continuing effort to determine the feasibility of using nanoparticle suspensions as EOR agents.

Title: Experimental Investigation of the Effect of Adding Nanoparticles to Polymer Flooding in Water-Wet Micromodels
Authors: Edgar Rueda1,*, Salem Akarri2,*, Ole Torsæter2, Rosângela B.Z.L. Moreno1
Affiliation: 1 School of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Petroleum Engineering, University of Campinas, Rua Mendeleyev, 200 - CEP 13083-860, Cidade Universitária Barão Geraldo Campinas – SP, Brazil; [email protected] (E.R); [email protected] (R.M) 2 PoreLab Research Centre, Department of Geoscience and Petroleum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), S. P. Andersens veg 15a, 7031 Trondheim, Norway; [email protected] (S.A.); [email protected] (O.T.) * Correspondence: [email protected]; Tel.: +55 19-981-24-8673 (E.R), [email protected] (S.A.); +47 465 63 030
Abstract: Recently, the combination of conventional chemical EOR methods and nanotechnology has received lots of attention. This experimental study explores the dynamic changes in the oil configuration due to the addition of nanoparticles (NPs) to biopolymer flooding. The tests were performed in water-wet micromodels using Xanthan Gum and Scleroglucan, and silica-based nanoparticles in a secondary mode. The microfluidic setup was integrated with a microscope to capture the micro-scale fluid configurations. The change in saturation, connectivity, and cluster size distributions of the non-wetting phase was evaluated by means of image analysis. The biopolymer content did not affect the ability of the nanoparticles to reduce the interfacial tension. The experiments showed that the nanofluid flood led to the highest ultimate oil recovery, compared to the Xanthan Gum, Scleroglucan and brine flooding at the same capillary number. In the cases of adding nanoparticles to the biopolymer solutions, NPs-assisted Xanthan flooding achieved the highest ultimate oil recovery. This behavior was also evident at a higher capillary number. The overall finding suggests a more homogenous dispersion of the nanoparticles in the solution and a reduction in the polymer adsorption in the Xanthan Gum/NPs solution, which explains the improvement in the sweep efficiency and recovery factor.

Title: A Novel Application of Polymer-functionalised Silica Nanoparticles for Enhanced Oil Recovery
Authors: Alberto Bila 1,; Ole Torsæter 2
Affiliation: 1 Centre of Studies in Oil and Gas Engineering and Technology, Faculty of Enineering, Eduardo Mondlane University (EMU), Maputo-Mozambique 2 PoreLab Research Centre, Department of Geoscience and Petroleum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU!), S. P. Andersens veg 15a, 7031, Trondheim-Norway; [email protected] * Correspondence: [email protected]; Tel.: +258-82 413 8000
Abstract: Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) using nanoparticles has been proposed as a solution to overcome declining oil production rates due to their small size (1 to 100 nm) and large surface area. The research has demonstrated marvellous efforts in understanding the mechanisms associated with the application of nanoparticles to improve the sweep efficiency of water flood. Despite these achievements, gaps still exist in terms of understanding the nanoparticle’s induced fluid-fluid and fluid-solid interactions that occur at nanoscale, which pave way for the mobilisation of residual oil. This paper provides additional experimental results to the data bank on the application of novel nanoparticles injection in porous media. Four types of silica nanoparticles with surface functionalised with polymer molecules were investigated as additives to injection seawater, in order to improve the recovery of crude oil from neutral-wet Berea sandstone reservoirs. A series of flooding experiments were performed with the nanoparticles diluted to 0.1 wt.% in synthetic sea water. The resultant nanofluids were injected as tertiary EOR fluids at minimal reservoir temperature of 60 °C. The influence of nanoparticles at the interface was studied via interfacial tension (IFT) and Amott-wettability index measurements. Furthermore, nanofluid stability, fluid emulsions and nanoparticle migration behavior were investigated to understand the phenomena of oil recovery due to nanoparticles. The displacement tests showed that incremental oil recovery of 3.3 to 5% of original oil in place (OOIP) could be achieved by nanofluids compared to the injection of plain water. Moreover, the sweep efficiency was affected by the reduction in core’s permeability induced by the aggregation/agglomeration of nanoparticles in the pores. Our hypothesis is that oil recovery seemed to occur through a synergistic effect of the reduced IFT between crude oil/water (from10.28mN/mto 6.5-2.9 mN/m), log-jamming effect and the formation of nanoparticle-stabilised emulsions. However, the development of new surface roughness and wettability alteration to a more water-wet condition, due to deposition of silica nanoparticles, appeared to play the primary role in the mobilisation of the residual oil.

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