Comprehensive review on surfactant adsorption on mineral surfaces in chemical enhanced oil recovery

Zilong Liu*, Ge Zhao, Mark Brewer, Qichao Lv, Ernst J.R. Sudhölter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)
84 Downloads (Pure)


With the increasing demand for efficient extraction of residual oil, enhanced oil recovery (EOR) offers prospects for producing more reservoirs’ original oil in place. As one of the most promising methods, chemical EOR (cEOR) is the process of injecting chemicals (polymers, alkalis, and surfactants) into reservoirs. However, the main issue that influences the recovery efficiency in surfactant flooding of cEOR is surfactant losses through adsorption to the reservoir rocks. This review focuses on the key issue of surfactant adsorption in cEOR and addresses major concerns regarding surfactant adsorption processes. We first describe the adsorption behavior of surfactants with particular emphasis on adsorption mechanisms, isotherms, kinetics, thermodynamics, and adsorption structures. Factors that affect surfactant adsorption such as surfactant characteristics, solution chemistry, rock mineralogy, and temperature were discussed systematically. To minimize surfactant adsorption, the chemical additives of alkalis, polymers, nanoparticles, co-solvents, and ionic liquids are highlighted as well as implementing with salinity gradient and low salinity water flooding strategies. Finally, current trends and future challenges related to the harsh conditions in surfactant based EOR are outlined. It is expected to provide solid knowledge to understand surfactant adsorption involved in cEOR and contribute to improved flooding strategies with reduced surfactant loss.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102467
JournalAdvances in Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • Adsorption behavior
  • Chemical additives
  • Chemical enhanced oil recovery
  • Influencing factors
  • Surfactant adsorption


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