Investigation of certain physical–chemical features of oil recovery by an optimized alkali–surfactant–foam (ASF) system

S. M. Hosseini-Nasab*, P. L.J. Zitha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
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The objective of this study is to discover a synergistic effect between foam stability in bulk and micro-emulsion phase behaviour to design a high-performance chemical system for an optimized alkaline–surfactant–foam (ASF) flooding for enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The focus is on the interaction of ASF chemical agents with oil in the presence and absence of a naphthenic acid component and in situ soap generation under bulk conditions. To do so, the impact of alkalinity, salinity, interfacial tension (IFT) reduction and in situ soap generation was systematically studied by a comprehensive measurement of (1) micro-emulsion phase behaviour using a glass tube test method, (2) interfacial tension and (3) foam stability analysis. The presented alkali–surfactant (AS) formulation in this study lowered IFT between the oil and aqueous phases from nearly 30 to 10−1–10−3 mN/m. This allows the chemical formulation to create considerably low IFT foam flooding with a higher capillary number than conventional foam for displacing trapped oil from porous media. Bulk foam stability tests demonstrated that the stability of foam diminishes in the presence of oil with large volumes of in situ soap generation. At lower surface tensions (i.e. larger in situ soap generation), the capillary suction at the plateau border is smaller, thus uneven thinning and instabilities of the film might happen, which will cause acceleration of film drainage and lamellae rupture. This observation could also be interpreted by the rapid spreading of oil droplets that have a low surface tension over the lamella. The spreading oil, by augmenting the curvature radius of the bubbles, decreases the surface elasticity and surface viscosity. Furthermore, the results obtained for foam stability in presence of oil were interpreted in terms of phenomenological theories of entering/spreading/bridging coefficients and lamella number.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1873-1886
Number of pages14
JournalColloid and Polymer Science: Kolloid-Zeitschrift und Zeitschrift für Polymere
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2017


  • Enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
  • Foam stability
  • In situ soap
  • Interfacial tension (IFT)
  • Lamellae number
  • Micro-emulsion phase behaviour


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