This work presents a theoretical discussion on nanoscale physico-chemical parameters affecting nanoemulsion flow in porous media and a bulk approach for modeling nanoemulsion enhanced oil recovery in coreflood experiments. Nanoemulsions are kinetically stable emulsions stabilized by surfactants with droplet sizes ranging from 20 to 500 nm and have the potential to deliver chemical agents depending on their application. For enhanced oil recovery (EOR), nanoemulsions have the potential to be more effective than the often used microemulsion because of their inherent ability to impart several theorized chemical EOR mechanisms. In particular, microemulsions differ from nanoemulsions since microemulsions are usually thermodynamically stable, while nanoemulsions are not: this implies that nanoemulsions should be quite indifferent to local physical (i.e., temperature) or chemical (i.e., composition) modifications. In addition, nanoemulsions are theoretically to be preferred to microemulsion due to their high surface area per unit volume and a general behavior that can be described through some feasible mechanisms. The first mechanism is the reduction of interfacial tension with the crude oil phase and rock, which facilitates mobilization of residual oil in the reservoir rocks. The second mechanism is the viscosity reduction of the crude oil phase due to the transport of nanoemulsion solvent into the crude oil phase. The third is the increased viscosity of the nanoemulsion fluid that improves the sweep efficiency of the nanoemulsion flood. Since current reservoir simulation software does not address nanoemulsion EOR modeling, the objective of this work is to theoretically show a way to incorporate the proposed mechanisms of nanoemulsion EOR into a robust reservoir model that can be used to history match nanoemulsion coreflooding results. Results show reasonable agreement with nanoemulsion core flood experiments. Although the approach is macro in nature, results indicate that it approximately models the transport of nanoemulsions in porous media for enhanced oil recovery. Modeling nanoemulsion EOR provides a framework to quantify recoverable oil. Quantifying these reserves is essential in the reservoir management of fields that are good candidates for nanoemulsion EOR.


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