Small Materials Are a Big Win for EOR

August
2016

Finding economical and environmentally friendly ways to extract oil from the ground after primary and secondary recovery have been exhausted remains challenging. Existing methods for enhanced oil recovery (EOR), also called tertiary recovery, involve harsh chemicals and recover just a small fraction of the well’s capacity.

Now, scientists at the Univ. of Houston have developed a nanofluid that can achieve 15.2% tertiary oil production. The fluid is effective at a concentration of just 0.01 wt%.

“Even though there are ways to achieve 20% enhanced recovery by complicated alkali/surfactant/polymer flooding or by surfactants with added nanoparticles, the necessary concentrations of the chemicals and nano­particles are much higher than 0.01 wt%,” says Zhifeng Ren, the M. D. Anderson Chair Professor of Physics at the Univ. of Houston.

Previously developed nanofluids, which are simple solutions of nano­particles, when...

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