Foam Propagation at Low Superficial Velocity: Implications for Long-Distance Foam Propagation

Guanqun Yu, S. Vincent-Bonnieu, Bill Rossen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Since the 1980s experimental and field studies have found anomalously slow propagation of foam that cannot be explained by surfactant adsorption. Friedmann et al. (1994) conducted foam-propagation experiments in a coneshaped sandpack and concluded that foam, once formed in the narrow inlet, was unable to propagate at all at lower superficial velocities towards the wider outlet. They hence concluded that long-distance foam propagation in radial flow from an injection well is in doubt. Ashoori et al. (2012) provide a theoretical explanation for slower or non-propagation of foam at decreasing superficial velocity. Their explanation connects foam propagation to the minimum velocity or pressure gradient required for foam generation in homogeneous porous media (Gauglitz et al., 2002). The conditions for propagation of foam are less demanding than those for creation of new foam. However, there still can be a minimum superficial velocity necessary for propagation of foam, except that it could be significantly smaller than the minimum velocity for foam generation from an initial state of no-foam. At even lower superficial velocity, theory (Kam and Rossen, 2003) predicts a collapse of foam. In this study, we extend the experimental approach of Friedmann et al. in the context of the theory of Ashoori et al. We use a cylindrical core with stepwise increasing diameters such that the superficial velocity in the outlet section is 1/16 of that in the inlet. N2 foam is created and stabilized by an alpha olefin sulfonate surfactant. Previously (Yu et al., 2019), we mapped the conditions for foam generation in a Bentheimer sandstone core as a function of total superficial velocity, surfactant concentration and injected gas fraction (foam quality). In this study, we extend the map to include the conditions for propagation of foam, after its creation in the narrow inlet section at greater superficial velocity. Thereafter, by reducing superficial velocity, we map the conditions for foam collapse. Our results suggest that the minimum superficial velocities for foam generation, propagation and maintenance increase with increasing foam quality and decreasing surfactant concentration, in agreement with theory. The minimum velocity for propagation of foam is much less than that for foam generation, and that for foam maintenance is less than that for propagation. The implications of our lab results for field application of foam are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th European Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789462822788
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event20th European Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery - Pau, France
Duration: 8 Apr 201911 Apr 2019


Conference20th European Symposium on Improved Oil Recovery
Abbreviated titleIOR 2019


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