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Improvement of Heavy Oil Recovery in the VAPEX Process using Montmorillonite Nanoclays

Abstract : In this paper, the nanoclay particles were introduced as mobile adsorbents in oil reservoirs to adsorb the asphaltenes, reduce the viscosity and enhance the dispersion. The objective of this paper is experimental investigation of enhanced heavy oil recovery using in situ nanoparticles for the first time. Moreover, two thermal analysis methods (thermogravimetry and differential thermal analysis) were used to analyze the asphaltene content of residue hydrocarbons in the swept chambers in nano-assisted and conventional VAPEX processes. Experiments were carried out using Iranian heavy oil and propane: the setup consisted of two sand-packed cells; one packed only with glass beads as the oil matrix and the other with glass beads and modified montmorillonite as the nanoclay, while they had similar porosity and permeability. The content of deposited asphaltene in swept matrixes, the propagation pattern of vapor chambers in heavy oil matrixes, and the rates of solvent consumption and oil production were determined. The results elucidated that montmorillonite changed the matrix heterogeneity and led to forming enhanced breakthroughs, to increasing the interfacial surface of vapor/bitumen and to accelerating the oil production. It was found that not only was the rate of vapor injection diminished, but the heavy oil recovery was also markedly enhanced by 30(±4)%.
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K. Pourabdollah, A. Zarringhalam Moghaddam, R. Kharrat. Improvement of Heavy Oil Recovery in the VAPEX Process using Montmorillonite Nanoclays. Oil & Gas Science and Technology - Revue d'IFP Energies nouvelles, Institut Français du Pétrole, 2011, 66 (6), pp.1005-1016. ⟨10.2516/ogst/2011109⟩. ⟨hal-01937462⟩

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