Researchers at The Institute of Petroleum Engineering at TU Clausthal in Germany are being supported by Malvern Instruments in new work to understand and optimize the performance of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) fluids.

The polymeric solutions used for EOR exemplify the fluids used in a range of drilling applications to maximize oil extraction while safeguarding geological formations. Details of the work have recently been presented in a new webinar available for viewing.  

EOR involves injecting a solution into the porous rock surrounding a well and can boost the amount of oil extracted by up to 20 percent. The fluids used are relatively concentrated solutions of high molecular weight polymers and have unique flow behavior. The new research demonstrates the ability of the Kinexus rheometer from Malvern to measure the viscous (liquid-like) and elastic (solid-like) responses of EOR fluids in order to characterize and predict how they will perform under the conditions likely to be encountered during use.

The resulting data enable rationalization of the behavior of EOR fluids in porous media. In use, the fluids must accelerate and decelerate as they traverse pores through narrow connecting channels. This generates stretching or extensional forces along the flow axis due to their viscoelastic characteristics, while at the same time fluid close to the walls is subjected to shear forces. Viscoelastic fluids demonstrating such behavior have been shown to improve displacement efficiency and recovery yields compared with conventional Newtonian fluids.

EOR fluids must therefore be formulated to exhibit optimum viscoelastic behavior and resistance to stretching, a feature that can be investigated directly by rheological characterization. Furthermore, the research shows how a range of complementary methods accessible via the Kinexus can be applied to gain valuable insight into the effect of concentration, temperature and brine reservoir hardness on fluid performance. The resulting data support the safe and effective use of the industrial fluids.

Malvern provides the materials and biophysical characterization technology and expertise that enables scientists and engineers to understand and control the properties of dispersed systems. These systems range from proteins and polymers in solution, particle and nanoparticle suspensions and emulsions, through to sprays and aerosols, industrial bulk powders and high concentration slurries. Used at all stages of research, development and manufacturing, Malvern’s materials characterization instruments provide critical information that helps accelerate research and product development, enhance and maintain product quality and optimize process efficiency. For more information, go to