Abstract

The objective of this study is to develop a solvent-based Pickering emulsion stabilized by silica nanoparticle for enhanced heavy oil recovery. Unlike the light oil, the recovery of heavy oil is quite challenging because of its high viscosity. To reduce the viscosity of heavy crude oil, solvent-based Pickering emulsion is explored to improve the recovery of heavy oil. The approach is to use solvent-in-water emulsion stabilized by nanoparticle which is more economical as compared to thermal or solvent-based enhanced oil recovery (EOR) methods. In this work, the solvent-in-water Pickering emulsion has been prepared by homogenizing the mixture with the help of homogenizer at 13000 rpm for 3 minutes. It can be inferred from the experimental results that the use of nanoparticle has helped to improve the stability of solvent-based Pickering emulsion for a longer period of time as compared to conventional surfactant based emulsions due to irreversible adsorption of silica nanoparticle at the oil-water interface. The silica nanoparticle of 15 nm size is used to make the Pickering emulsion. The colloidal stability and surface charge of the nanoparticle is evaluated by zeta potential. Silica nanoparticle is expected to improve the rheological stability of solvent-based emulsion and provides favorable mobility. Hence, these solvent-based emulsion flooding can provide high displacement efficiencies like miscible solvent flooding and better sweep efficiency like polymer flooding and helps to improve the enhanced heavy oil recovery. The novelty of the nanoparticle stabilized solvent-based Pickering emulsion is that it can sustain harsh reservoir conditions and remains very stable for a longer period of time as compared to other EOR techniques. The droplet size of these emulsions is few micron in size so that it can easily flow through the pore throat size of the formation reservoir and helps in improving the enhanced heavy oil recovery.

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