Since the late 1960s, several enhanced–oil–recovery (EOR) researchers have developed various continuum and pore–scale viscoelastic models for quantifying the altered injectivity and incremental oil recovery because of the polymer's viscoelastic effects. In this paper, limitations in each of the continuum and pore–scale models are discussed. The critiques are made on the basis of the contradicting literature.
Most of the earlier models rely on the exclusive use of the Deborah number to quantify the viscoelastic effects. The Deborah number overlooks mechanical–degradation effects. There exists a large difference in the magnitudes of the reported Deborah number in the literature because of the inconsistency in using different relaxation time and residential time. Oscillatory relaxation time used by most of the EOR researchers to calculate the Deborah number failed to distinguish the different porous–media behavior of the viscous and viscoelastic polymer. Therefore, the accuracy of relaxation time obtained from the weak oscillatory field for EOR applications in porous media is questionable. The main limitation with all the existing continuum viscoelastic models is the empirical reliance on coreflood data to predict the shear–thickening effects in porous media. The strain hardening index, needed for quantifying the thickening regime, cannot be obtained by the conventional shear rheological techniques. The conventional capillary number (Nc) failed to explain the reduction in residual oil saturation () during viscoelastic polymer flooding. Pore–scale viscoelastic models use the conventional oscillatory Deborah number for quantifying the polymer's viscoelastic effects on Sor reduction. However, this approach has many drawbacks.
Discussions on the shortcomings of the existing viscoelastic models caution the current chemical EOR (cEOR) researchers about their applications and potential consequences. Also, this research provides a path forward for future research to address the limitations associated with the quantification of viscoelastic flow through porous media.