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Comprehensive investigation of the chemical flooding EOR in natural rocks

Project Description

Chemical flooding is a promising method of EOR in both carbonate and sandstone reservoirs. It is widely accepted that presence of chemicals in rock pore space results in alteration of interfacial tension between brine and hydrocarbons and rock wettability alteration. These changes release oil trapped in the pore space and result in extra incremental oil recovery.

Changes in petrophysical properties of rocks associated with chemical flooding routinely measured at the moment, do not include electrical interfacial properties and thus are not conclusive. It is known that electrostatic interaction between rock mineral and saturating fluids comprises a major factor that determines rock wettability and therefore, changes in occupancy of the pore space by reservoir fluids will affect the effective zeta potential measured in a rock.

The aim of this project is to develop a comprehensive experimental method to measure zeta potential of rocks saturated with high salinity brines, crude oil and chemicals at reservoir conditions of salinity and temperature. The project will exploit the unique expertise of the supervisors in this area and the results of the project will test the hypothesis that changes in the effective zeta potential during polymer flooding are correlated with changes in rock wettability, interfacial tension and ultimately oil recovery. The measurements will be carried out on various carbonate/sandstone samples, different types of crude oil and typical polymers used in polymer flooding EOR, and will be conducted at reservoir conditions of brine salinity and temperature (up to 120oC). Due to simplicity and reliability of this experimental approach, the impact of the project is two-fold: i) the method will complement the existing methods to characterise rock wettability and interfacial tension; ii) the method will carry a predictive capability for screening reservoirs for positive polymer flooding, thus mitigating economic risks of this expensive method of EOR.

The successful candidate should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Engineering or Physics.

Knowledge: Experience in experimental work and hands-on experience is desirable.


Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.


Informal inquiries can be made to Dr J Vinogradov () with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ().

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. It is for self-funded students only.

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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