Flow enhancement of water-soluble polymers through porous media by preshearing

Mohsen Mirzaie Yegane*, Julia Schmidt, Fatima Dugonjic-Bilic, Benjamin Gerlach, Pouyan E. Boukany, Pacelli L.J. Zitha

*Corresponding author for this work

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We examine the role of preshearing on the flow properties of polymer solutions containing essentially an acrylamide-based copolymer obtained from an emulsified polymer emulsion inverted by a surfactant. The polymer solutions were presheared using three methods: (1) a Buddeberg disperser, (2) an Ultra-Turrax disperser, and (3) pressure-driven flow through a capillary. Shearing the polymer solution was done under fast flow to induce high stretching of the polymer chains and thus promote the break-up of the longest ones (i.e., decrease in relaxation time and shear-thinning level). The unsheared and presheared polymer solutions were forced through sand packs to compare their corresponding flow resistances. We observed that the reduction in the viscosity and screen factor of the presheared polymer solutions is path independent regardless of the shearing device. We found a critical Weissenberg number (Wic ∼ 13) above which the viscosity of the polymer solutions started to decrease. The resistance factor for the polymer solutions presheared with the Ultra-Turrax disperser at an energy input of 31.3 and 290.7 MJ/m3 was nearly 3 and 7 times, respectively, lower than for the unsheared polymer solution, while the viscosity decreased only by 27 and 48%, respectively. The sand-pack experiments were successfully interpreted using a numerical model taking into account time-dependent retention. The model showed that the flow of the presheared polymer solutions through the sand packs was enhanced mainly due to the breaking of the longest polymer chains, which results in smaller mechanical entrapment. This preshearing of the water-soluble polymers can be used in multiple industrial applications, including chemical enhanced oil recovery and optimization of polymer processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3463-3473
Number of pages11
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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