Reducing anionic surfactant adsorption using polyacrylate as sacrificial agent investigated by QCM-D

Zilong Liu*, Pegah Hedayati, Murali K. Ghatkesar, Weichao Sun, Hayati Onay, Dirk Groenendijk, Johannes van Wunnik, Ernst J.R. Sudhölter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
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Surfactant losses by adsorption to rock surfaces make surfactant-based enhanced oil recovery economically less feasible. We investigated polyacrylate (PA) as a sacrificial agent in the reduction of anionic surfactant adsorption with focus on calcite surfaces by using quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring. It was found that the adsorption of the anionic surfactant alcohol alkoxy sulfate (AAS) followed a Langmuir adsorption isotherm, and the adsorbed amount reached saturation above its critical micellar concentration. Adsorption of PA was a much slower process compared to AAS adsorption. Increasing the calcium ion concentration also increased the amount of AAS adsorbed as well as the mass increase rate of PA adsorption. Experimental results combined with density functional theory calculations indicated that calcium cation bridging was important for anionic surfactant AAS and PA adsorption to calcite surfaces. To effectively reduce the amount of surfactant adsorption, it was needed to preflush with PA, rather than by a simultaneous injection. Preflushing with 30 ppm of PA gave a reduction of AAS adsorption of 30% under high salinity (HS, 31,800 ppm) conditions, compared to 8% reduction under low salinity (LS, 3180 ppm) conditions. In the absence of PA, the amount of adsorbed AAS was reduced by already 50% upon changing from HS to LS conditions. Lower calcium ion concentrations, as under LS conditions, contributed to this observation. On different mineral surfaces, PA reduced the AAS adsorption in the order of alumina > calcite > silica. These results offer important insights into mitigating surfactant adsorption using PA polyelectrolyte as sacrificial agent and contribute to improved flooding strategies with reduced surfactant loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Divalent cation
  • Enhanced oil recovery
  • Polyelectrolyte
  • QCM-D
  • Surfactant flooding


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