Abstract

The potential application of nanoparticle dispersions as formation stimulation agents, contrast agents or simply as tracers in upstream oil and gas industry requires knowledge of the flow properties of these nanoparticles. The modeling of nanoparticle transport in hydrocarbon reservoirs requires a comprehensive understanding of the rheological behavior of these nanofluids. Silica nanoparticles have been commonly used because of their low-cost fabrication and cost-effective surface modification. The aqueous silica nanoparticle dispersions show Newtonian behavior under steady shear measurements controlled by a rheometer as discussed by Metin et al. [1]. The viscosity of nanoparticle dispersions depends strongly on the particle concentration and that this correlation can be depicted by a unified rheological model [1]. In addition, during flow in permeable media, the variation of shear associated with complex pore morphology and the interactions between the nanoparticles and tortuous flow channels can affect the viscosity of nanoparticle dispersion. The latter is particularly important where the concentration of nanoparticles in dispersion may change because of nanoparticle adsorption on mineral/fluid and oil/water interfaces or by mechanical trapping of nanoparticles. In this paper, the flow of silica nanoparticle dispersions through different permeable media is investigated. The rheological behaviors of the dispersions are compared with those determined using a rheometer. We established a correlation between the nanoparticle concentration and dispersion viscosity in porous media for various nanoparticle sizes. The effects of pore structure and shear rate are also studied. We have confirmed that the concept of effective maximum packing fraction can be applied to describe the viscosity of aqueous nanoparticle dispersions in both bulk flow and flow in porous media with high permeability and regular pore structures but not at low permeability because of mechanical trapping. Our work provides new insight to engineering nanoparticle rheology for subsurface applications.

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