Significant amounts of gas accumulations exist in unconventional gas plays. Current understanding held that in unconventional shale plays, natural gas was stored as "free" gas in pore spaces and as an "adsorbed" phase on clay minerals and surface of organic pores material. The adsorption of methane has been confirmed in lab experiments in high-pressured gas chambers. Our lab experiments indicated that hexane vapor could be adsorbed onto organic-rich shale core samples through capillary condensation and the signal could be detected by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) instruments. This study further examines the capillary condensation of hexane vapor into clay minerals and the NMR response.
Smectite samples from the Clay Minerals Society were used in the experiments. Two types of capillary condensation experiments were conducted: one with water vapor and the other with hexane vapor, both at room conditions. Weight gains indicated that some of the vapor condensed in the loose powder of smectite clay. NMR experiments were performed on vapor-saturated samples using a Maran 2 MHz spectrometer with an inter-echo time of 300 μsec.
The T2 distributions of the water-vapor and hexane vapor-saturated smectite clay were both unimodal. The water vapor-saturated sample showed a T2 at 0.5 ms, while the hexane vapor-saturated sample showed a T2 between 1 and 6 ms. This was likely due to the fact that the smectite crystallites have a small charge that has a more pronounced effect on polarized molecules such as water, than on non-polarized molecules such as hexane.