Supramolecular dynamic binary complexes with pH and salt-responsive properties for use in unconventional reservoirs.
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Hydraulic fracturing of unconventional reservoirs has seen a boom in the last century, as a means to fulfill the growing energy demand in the world. The fracturing fluid used in the process plays a substantial role in determining the results. Hence, several research and development efforts have been geared towards developing more sustainable, efficient, and improved fracturing fluids. Herein, we present a dynamic binary complex (DBC) solution, with potential to be useful in the hydraulic fracturing domain. It has a supramolecular structure formed by the self-assembly of low molecular weight viscosifiers (LMWVs) oleic acid and diethylenetriamine into an elongated entangled network under alkaline conditions. With less than 2 wt% constituents dispersed in aqueous solution, a viscous gel that exhibits high viscosities even under shear was formed. Key features include responsiveness to pH and salinity, and a zero-shear viscosity that could be tuned by a factor of ~280 by changing the pH. Furthermore, its viscous properties were more pronounced in the presence of salt. Sand settling tests revealed its potential to hold up sand particles for extended periods of time. In conclusion, this DBC solution system has potential to be utilized as a smart salt-responsive, pH-switchable hydraulic fracturing fluid.