The effects of pH, time and temperature on the stability and viscosity of cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) dispersions: implications for use in enhanced oil recovery
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) are currently being investigated as potential additives for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). Presented in this paper is a study investigating the effects of different physical and chemical environments that low concentration CNC dispersions may be subjected to at oil reservoir conditions. Different concentrations of CNC dispersed in de-ionized water and in a 1000 ppm NaCl brine were subjected to variations in pH and temperature, and the results showed that the dispersions remained stable in the pH range expected in oil reservoirs (between 5 and 9). Stable dispersions were also observed when heated to temperatures ranging from 50 to 90 °C. At extended heat aging at 90 and 120 °C for seven days; beginning degradation was observed for both types of CNC dispersions; with viscosity increase and pH decrease as the most important indicators. CNC dispersed in 1000 ppm NaCl brine was generally more heat tolerant than the CNC dispersed in de-ionized water. The increase in viscosity during heat aging can be very interesting for EOR applications. A fluid that increases its viscosity with heat and time will be easier to inject due to a low initial viscosity, and when the viscosity increases in the porous reservoir, the effect can be a stable waterfront and less viscous fingering, which again can lead to increased sweep efficiency and better oil recovery.