Cation Exchange in the Presence of Oil in Porous Media

Rouhi Farajzadeh, Hua Guo, Julia van Winden, Hans Bruining

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61 Citations (Scopus)
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Cation exchange is an interfacial process during which cations on a clay surface are replaced by other cations. This study investigates the effect of oil type and composition on cation exchange on rock surfaces, relevant for a variety of oil-recovery processes. We perform experiments in which brine with a different composition than that of the in situ brine is injected into cores with and without remaining oil saturation. The cation-exchange capacity (CEC) of the rocks was calculated using PHREEQC software (coupled to a multipurpose transport simulator) with the ionic composition of the effluent histories as input parameters. We observe that in the presence of crude oil, ion exchange is a kinetically controlled process and its rate depends on residence time of the oil in the pore, the temperature, and kinetic rate of adsorption of the polar groups on the rock surface. The cation-exchange process occurs in two stages during two phase flow in porous media. Initially, the charged sites of the internal surface of the clays establish a new equilibrium by exchanging cations with the aqueous phase. At later stages, the components of the aqueous and oleic phases compete for the charged sites on the external surface or edges of the clays. When there is sufficient time for crude oil to interact with the rock (i.e., when the core is aged with crude oil), a fraction of the charged sites are neutralized by the charged components stemming from crude oil. Moreover, the positively charged calcite and dolomite surfaces (at the prevailing pH environment of our experiments) are covered with the negatively charged components of the crude oil and therefore less mineral dissolution takes place when oil is present in porous media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-112
JournalACS Earth and Space Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Cation exchange
  • Wettability
  • Rock-fluid interaction
  • Wetting film
  • Heterogeneous charge
  • Clays
  • Geochemistry


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