Enhancement of Heavy Oil Recovery by Nanoparticle/Microwave Application
The primary heavy oil recovery is low due to the high viscosity and low mobility; hence, conventional thermal enhanced oil recovery methods such as steam flooding are widely applied to increase the oil production. New unconventional method such as microwave assisted gravity drainage (MWAGD) is under study the change the viscosity of the oil by microwave radiation. Different challenges such as heat loss and low efficiency are faced in unconventional thermal recovery methods especially in deep reservoirs. To improve the performance of unconventional methods, nanotechnology can play an important role. Nanomaterials due to their high surface to volume ratio, more heat absorbance, and more conductivity can be used in a novel approach called nanomaterial/microwave thermal oil recovery. In this work, several nanofluids prepared from nanoparticles such as γ-Alumina (γ-Al2O3), Titanium (IV) oxide (TiO2), MgO, and Fe3O4 were used to enhance the oil viscosity reduction in the porous media under MWAGD mechanism. Our tests showed that adding nanoparticles can increase the absorption of microwave radiation in the oil/ water system in the porous media. The magnitude of this increase is related to the type, particle size distribution in base fluid and, concentration of nanoparticles. Aluminum oxide nanoparticle was found to have the greatest effect on thermal properties of water. For example, only 0.05 wt.% of this nanoparticle, improves the alteration in temperature of water for around 100%. This change can affect the oil recovery and changed it from 37% to more than 40% under MWAGD. Hence, our experiments showed that besides other applications of nanotechnology in enhance oil recovery, heavy oil recovery can also be affected by nanomaterials.
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