1Department of Chemical Engineering, Isfahan University of Technology, Isfahan, Iran
2IOR/EOR Research Institute, National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Tehran, Iran
Efforts to enhance oil recovery through wettability alteration by nanoparticles have been attracted in recent years. However, many basic questions have been ambiguous up until now. Nanoparticles penetrate into pore volume of porous media, stick on the core surface, and by creating homogeneous water-wet area, cause to alter wettability. This work introduces the new concept of adding ZnO nanoparticles by an experimental work on wettability alteration and oil recovery through spontaneous imbibition mechanism. Laboratory tests were conducted in two experimental steps on four cylindrical core samples (three sandstones and one carbonate) taken from a real Iranian heavy oil reservoir in Amott cell. In the first step, the core samples were saturated by crude oil. Next, the core samples were flooded with nanoparticles and saturated by crude oil for about two weeks. Then, the core samples were immersed in distilled water and the amount of recovery was monitored during 30 days for both steps. The experimental results showed that oil recovery for three sandstone cores changed from 20.74, 4.3, and 3.5% of original oil in place (OOIP) in the absence of nanoparticles to 36.2, 17.57, and 20.68% of OOIP when nanoparticles were added respectively. Moreover, for the carbonate core, the recovery changed from zero to 8.89% of OOIP by adding nanoparticles. By the investigation of relative permeability curves, it was found that by adding ZnO nanoparticles, the crossover-point of curves shifted to the right for both sandstone and carbonate cores, which meant wettability was altered to water- wet. This study, for the first time, illustrated the remarkable role of ZnO nanoparticles in wettability alteration toward more water-wet for both sandstone and carbonate cores and enhancing oil recovery.