Experimental study of pore size distribution effect on phase transitions of hydrocarbons in nanoporous media Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2018 Elsevier B.V. The phase behavior of a fluid in a nanoporous system is altered from that in the bulk due to confinement effects. There have been many experimental studies on this important effect, yet the vast majority are limited to porous media with a narrow or singular pore size distribution. However, natural porous media exhibit a broad pore size distribution. For example, in shale rocks the pore size ranges from several nanometers to hundreds of nanometers. It is not clear if a broad pore size distribution has a significant effect on the phase transition of nanoconfined fluids, and, if effects are present, how and why the phase behavior is altered. The effects of a distributed pore size on the bubble point of confined fluids as measured by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) are not known. Here, we present an experimental study on the effect of pore size distribution on the liquid-vapor phase transition of n-hexane, n-octane and n-decane confined in nonporous media. We report a method to discretize the pore size distribution of natural shale rocks so that it can be mimicked using mixtures of synthetic nanoporous media. Using DSC, we show that the presence of a broad pore size distribution significantly alters the vapor-liquid phase transition of confined hydrocarbons. In fully saturated (i.e. filled) nanoporous media, the largest pore size dictates the onset of liquid-vapor phase transition (.i.e. bubblepoint). However, when the porous media is partially saturated, smaller pore sizes influence the bubblepoint. These findings suggest that there is a dependency of the confined fluid phase behavior on the fluid saturation in nanoporous media with a broad pore size distribution, which contributes to a broader understanding of phase transitions in natural porous media.

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Luo, S., Lutkenhaus, J. L., & Nasrabadi, H.

citation count

  • 9

publication date

  • May 2019