Microbial enhanced oil recovery : a pore-scale investigation of interfacial interactions Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/h702q844m

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  • Current oil production technologies recover only about one‐third to one‐half of the oil originally present in an oil reservoir. Given current oil prices, even a modest increase in oil recovery efficiency is fiscally attractive. One novel approach to increase oil recovery efficiency is a process called microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR), where microorganisms are either used as a clogging agent to redirect flow or to produce biosurfactant that reduces interfacial tension. This dissertation aims to understand the MEOR pore‐scale mechanisms relevant to oil recovery by taking a two‐fold approach where transparent 2‐dimensional micromodel experiments imaged with stereo microscopy and 3‐dimensional column experiments imaged with x‐ray computed microtomography (CMT) are utilized. Micromodel experiments allow for direct visualization of the biological phase (i.e. biofilm), however, only 2‐dimensional information is provided. Conversely, CMT experiments provide 3‐dimensional pore‐scale information, but lack the ability to image the biological phase. With this two‐fold approach, it is possible to distinguish multiple fluid interfaces, quantify fluid phase saturations, measure oil blob size distributions, and visualize the biological phase. Furthermore, a method to measure interfacial curvature from 3‐dimensional images is developed, providing researchers a new perspective from which to study multiphase flow experiments. Overall, the presented research utilizes pore‐scale imaging techniques to study the interfacial interactions occurring during MEOR in an effort to better explain the physics, and thus, increase the efficacy of MEOR.
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