Clay swelling has been recognized as one of the main mechanisms of formation damage during various well operations. Many researchers have extensively investigated the effects of many parameters such as pH, and salinity of water-based fluids on montmorillonite swelling behavior. However, studies of supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) interactions with montmorillonite clay have been limited. These interactions can affect injectivity during enhanced oil recovery (EOR) operations. Therefore, the main objective of this study is to investigate the swelling behavior of montmorillonite in supercritical CO2 as a function clay original state: dry or hydrated.
The swelling behavior of both Ca-montmorillonite and Na-montmorillonite clays in distilled water and supercritical CO2 was investigated at temperature values of 25°C. Nearly 1 g of each clay was soaked in 10 g of distilled water at the desired temperature and atmospheric pressure for 24 hours. Then, these swollen clays were soaked in supercritical CO2 for 24 hours at the desired temperature and at nearly 2,000 psi. Absorbed water content and increase in interlayer space, after each soaking stage, were determined using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and X-ray diffraction (XDR).
Results based on this study have indicated that the swelling degree of Na-montmorillonite was higher than that of Ca-montmorillonite after being soaked in distilled water for 24 hours. After absorbing distilled water at 25°C, the (001) d-spacing of dry Ca-montmorillonite of 14.95 Å increased by 25%, while the (001) d-spacing of dry Na-montmorillonite of 11.67 Å increased by 60.4%. The (001) d-spacing of these swelled clays decreased after they were soaked in supercritical CO2. For example, the (001) d-spacing of hydrated Na-montmorillonite of 18.72 Å decreased by nearly 25% after soaking in supercritical CO2for 24 hours at 25°C and 2,000 psi. This paper presents new interesting interaction results of shrinkage, swelling behavior and structure change of montmorillonite clay after interaction with supercritical CO2, which are important for different EOR operations.