The impacts of solubilized and dispersed crude oil on foam in a porous medium

A. A.A. Hussain, S. Vincent-Bonnieu, R. Z. Kamarul Bahrim, R. M. Pilus, W. R. Rossen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Dispersed and solubilized oil can impact bulk foam stability differently. Though aromatic components are more soluble in water than straight-chain aliphatic components, solubilized aromatics do not necessarily impact the stability of foam in bulk or porous media, whereas straight-chain aliphatic components can have a detrimental impact (Bergeron et al., 1993; Lee et al., 2013). However, to our knowledge there is no published research on the impact of a solubilized crude oil on foam, as distinct from a separate oil phase, in a porous medium. To investigate whether the behaviour of steady-state foam with crude oil can be explained by solubilized oil components, we perform foam-flooding experiments with surfactant solution previously equilibrated with crude oil. Furthermore, we conduct foam-flooding experiments with hexane solubilized in the surfactant solution, to determine whether straight-chain aliphatic components can explain the behaviour of the solubilized crude oil on steady-state foam mobility, in the same way that they impact bulk foam in the literature. The impact of crude oil, as a separate, dispersed oleic phase, is studied here by co-injection of crude oil, surfactant solution and gas in core-floods, focusing on steady-state mobility, captured by the pressure gradient within the core. In our experiments crude oil, as a separate oleic phase, reduces the pressure gradient within the core up to a factor of twenty compared to the case without oil. Nonetheless, this pressure gradient is about a factor three greater than we observe by co-injecting crude oil, water without surfactant, and gas. With a simplified model we fit our three-phase co-injection experimental data by increasing the viscosity of both the gas and water, indicating that some weak foam and emulsion is generated. Neither effect by itself can fit the data. In contrast, with crude oil or hexane solubilized in the surfactant solution, the pressure gradient is of the same order of magnitude as for co-injection gas and surfactant with or without solubilized oil. These results indicate that solubilized crude oil does not reduce foam mobility as much as does the crude oil as a separate oleic phase. Furthermore, the effect of solubilized crude on foam is not due only to straight-chain aliphatic components such as hexane: our experiment with solubilized hexane showed a less-significant impact on foam mobility. The major result of our work is that we find that both gas and oil mobility are reduced when co-injecting oil, gas and surfactant solution in a porous medium. Another result is that the solubilized crude oil slightly reduces foam mobility, but does not explain the much-larger detrimental impact of crude oil in a separate phase on foam in a porous media.
Original languageEnglish
Article number123671
Number of pages9
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Crude oil
  • Emulsion
  • Enhanced oil recovery
  • EOR
  • Foam
  • Porous media
  • Surfactant


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