Multi-scale Analysis of Capillary Trapping for Improved Oil Recovery and CO2 storage Applications Grant uri icon


  • A comprehensive study of capillary trapping at multi-scale in porous media is to be conducted. Specifically, a focused study on the effect of pore-structure and wettability. The main objective of this research is to improve the understanding of the effect of pore-structure and wettability on the amount of fluid trapped at the pore-scale and hydrocarbon recovery due to capillary forces. For pore structure, coreflooding and visualization experiments at several scales (nano to micro to core-scales) will be conducted. The objective is to investigate how different pore structures; mainly variations in coordination number (the number of throats connected to a single pore) and aspect ratio (the ratio of the pore radius to the throat radius) affect capillary trapping. The study will help in better understanding complex pore geometry such as that of limestone, which make the majority of QatarĂ¢ s hydrocarbon fields. Pore structure investigation will be coupled with variation in wettability states to study the effect of wettability on capillary trapping. Similarly, for wettability, variations in wettability states will be investigated by conducting experiments at micro to core-scales. Varying the wettability will be carried out using commercially available organic acids to alter the wettability and change the contact angles. The amount of fluid trapped will then be studied at the pore and core-scale. The findings will be of great importance to projects of carbon capture and storage (CCS) where capillary trapping has to be maximized in order to maximize the amount of carbon dioxide trapped at the pores. Likewise, it is beneficial to projects on improved oil recovery (IOR) where capillary trapping has to be minimized to extract the maximum amount of hydrocarbon. Based on literature compilation of Alyafei and Blunt (2016), that will be further discussed later, it was observed that Altered wettability systems (intermediate-wet, mixed-wet, and oil-wet systems) is not well understood as no clear trend was observed. The aim in this study is to simplify the problem at hand by first isolating the main parameters affecting capillary trapping (pore structre and wettability) and studying them extensively at different scales and then gradually increase the complexity of the system in order to understand capillary trapping. Microfluidics, 3D printing, computerized tomography (CT) scanning, and coreflooding experimentations will be used to deeply understand how pore structure and wettability affect capillary trapping. In addition, the experimental data will be complemented with pore-scale modeling analysis using OpenFoam and open source software from Imperial College London. The proposed research project should allow us to be the pioneers in the area of experimentation and visualization of multi-phase flow in porous media in the region. Our research establishment has started few years with generous funding from Qatar national research fund (QNRF) to start the Multi-phase flow in porous media (MFPM) research group and laboratory in Qatar. The group has published in top peer-reviewed journals in the petroleum engineering field as well as provided services to oil and gas companies such as Total and North Oil Company (NOC). Our aim is to continue the expansion of our group and research laboratory as well as offer services to the community by providing high-quality publications and critical measurements to oil and gas industry. Further expansion in the research group will enable further collaboration with international institutions and oil and gas industry. Moreover, the research will strengthen the appeal towards Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 by solidifying a pioneering research group in a specialized area.

date/time interval

  • 2020 - 2023