Mirco- and Nanofluidics for Enhanced Oil Recovery

As of September 23, the PCF group starts a major collaborative research project on Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) financed by the energy corporation BP. During 5 years, BP will sponsor research at PCF with a total amount of funding of € 4.25 million. The goal of the research is to improve the fundamental understanding of the physical processes controlling the release of oil from the pores in the rock where it is trapped under ground. Current technology, in which water is pumped into the rock to promote recovery, leaves on average around 60% of the oil behind in the reservoir. By modifying the composition to the water (e.g. additives, salt concentration) that modify the interaction between oil, water, and rock, BP wants to make this process more efficient. The PCF group has an extensive experience in analyzing the physical underlying mechanisms such as the “two-phase flow” behavior of oil and water in the micropores of the rock and the physico-chemical wetting properties of the system. Throughout the project, PCF will make use of micro- and nanofluidics to analyze the oil recovery process on the level of individual pores and to test new strategies for improving recovery. Several PhD students and Postdocs will be hired to carry out the research.