Elastic instabilities in pillared micro channels in effect to polymer flooding

Shauvik De, John van der Schaaf, Hans Kuipers, Frank Peters, Johan Padding

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Polymer liquids are used in the oil industry to improve the volumetric sweep efficiency and displacement efficiency of the oil from a reservoir. Surprisingly, it is not only the viscosity but also the elastic properties of the displacing fluid that determine the displacement efficiency. To understand the effects of viscoelasticity on enhanced oil recovery, both single and multiphase experiments are performed in pillared microchannels of different pitches. Different shear thinning viscoelastic fluids are used to obtain insights into flow structures in these pillared micro channels. Particle image velocimetry (PIV) technique is applied to characterise the complex flow structures at very low Reynolds number (< 0.01). The pressure drop across the channel for a range of Deborah numbers is measured using a pressure sensor. We observe an onset of flow asymmetry for the viscoelastic fluid after a critical Deborah number depending on the channel configuration. This flow asymmetry increases with an increase in Deborah number and shows characteristics of elastic turbulence. This can be characterised by an increase in velocity and pressure fluctuations which has a temporal and spatial dependency. The sudden increase in the velocity fluctuations is also visible from the micro-PIV experiments. Though the fluid is shear thinning in nature, we observe an increase in the apparent viscosity after the critical De number is reached, which represents a thickening behaviour. So strong shear and extensional effects of the viscoelastic fluid are responsible for the asymmetric flow structures. Next we performed multiphase flow experiments, by saturating the microchannel with oil, and then displacing it by different non-Newtonian fluids. Surprisingly we found the enhanced recovery corresponds to the critical De number where the onset of instability initiates for the single phase experiments. The elastic instabilities and the relation to enhanced displacement provides fundamental insights in the mechanism of polymer flooding.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventAERC 2017: 11th Annual European Rheology Conference / 26th Nordic Rheology Conference - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 3 Apr 20176 Apr 2017


ConferenceAERC 2017: 11th Annual European Rheology Conference / 26th Nordic Rheology Conference

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