Polymer - Nanoparticle Hybrids Enabled Oil and Gas Exploration and Production

R. Krishnamoorti
The University of Houston, US

Keywords: nanoparticles, oil, gas


Nanoparticles have been sought for potential applications in shale gas exploration and production because of their unique transport and surface wettability properties along with their relatively small size. We have studied the transport of polymer – nanoparticle hybrids through porous media and have shown that in many cases, even though the local diffusive processes are greatly hindered by the porous media, the nanoparticles are able to transport through such media. In a few cases, where strong particle – media interactions occur, the hybrid nanoparticles are able to strongly adhere to the media and significantly alter the media transport properties. Moreover, the hybrid nanoparticles are interfacially active materials and significantly alter the interface between hydrocarbon (liquids or gases) and water. We show through experiments that such interfacial activity is strongly related to the structuring of the nanoparticles at the interface. Such interfacial activity along with small dimensions of the particles might be extremely useful in shale reservoirs by establishing convenient methods to disrupt capillary seals.