Fluid-fluid interfacial properties during low salinity waterflooding

YQ Chen and J Shokri and V Niasar and M Mehana and CD Wood and Y Elakneswaran and JJ Zhao, JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR LIQUIDS, 390, 123142 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.molliq.2023.123142

Understanding the fluid-fluid interfacial interactions is critical to enhancing oil recovery, underground CO2 storage, and soil remediation. Fluid-fluid interfacial interactions were identified as key parameters to govern fluid-fluid interfacial properties. In this investigation, we aim to evaluate the properties of the oil-brine interface in function of fluid compositions during low salinity waterflooding (LSW). Specifically, the main target is to unravel the oil-brine structure, including orientation of the carboxylic group (-COOH), interfacial structure, and species distribution. We utilized molecular dynamics (MD) simulation to evaluate the species distribution and surface structure at the molecular scale. The MD results showed that the carboxylic group accumulated near the oil-brine interface. The orientation of C=O in the carboxylic group is closer to 90 degrees in the brines with all salinity ranges, which is perpendicular to the oil-brine interface. The accumulation and orientation of the carboxylic group is, however, not sensitive to salinity variations. Furthermore, the oil-brine interfacial area turns to be wider with lowering salinity. Radial distribution function (RDF, g(r)) confirmed that lowering salinity decreases g (r) between -COOH and water and thus looses the affinity of oil to water. This investigation provides insights into the fluid-fluid interfacial properties of LSW at the molecular level.

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