Enzyme Enhanced Oil Recovery (EEOR) has recently been categorized as one of the most effective EOR mechanisms. Laboratory and field studies have reported up to 16% of incremental oil recovery rates. EEOR recovers oil mainly by two main mechanisms: lowering the interfacial tension between brine and oil and altering the wettability on rock grains to a more water-wet condition. Therefore, EEOR would promote mobilization of capillary-trapped oil after regular waterflooding. Since capillary-trapped oil resides at the micro-scale, it is essential to assess EEOR fluid-fluid interaction at the microfluidics scale. To further investigate the ways
in which these enzymes contribute to EOR, an experimental micro-scale approach was developed in which EEOR was analyzed using polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidic devices.
The PDMS microfluidics device was based on X-ray micro-CT images of a Bentheimer sandstone with resolution of 4.95 μm. We first compared the IFT reduction capabilities of one class of enzyme (Apollo GreenZyme ®) and a commercial surfactant (J13131) obtained from Shell Chemicals. For GreenZyme concentrations of 0.5, 1.5 and 2 wt%, the IFT values between GreenZyme solution and oil are 4.2, 0.7 and 0.6 mN/m, respectively. Whereas the IFT values for 0.5 wt% surfactant solutions and deionized water are 1.1 and 32 mN/m, respectively.
We then compared the oil recovery of the two systems using the aforementioned sandstone PDMS microfluidics device. Recovery values up to 92% of oilwere obtained using GreenZyme. Surfactant and waterflooding on the same PDMS chips had recovery values of 86 and 80%, respectively. This study provides insights and direct visualization of the micro-scale oil recovery mechanisms of EEOR that can be used for design
of effective EEOR flooding.
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