Non-thermal Recovery of Heavy oil and Oil Sands Using Nanoparticle
Heavy oils and oil sand resources are considered the largest portion of known energy resources, comprising 70% of total resources. Still, there is potential to increase oil production from these resources to fulfill future global energy needs. There have long been serious critiques of the methods and processes that are currently used to extract oil from these reservoirs because of their low efficiency and negative effects on the environment, particularly with respect to oil sands; there is room to improve efficiency and using new methods. A more efficient method that improves the recovery from heavy oil reservoirs with a smaller carbon footprint would benefit regions with extensive heavy oil resources like Venezuela, Canada, and several states in the USA. Sodium nanomaterial has the potential to be an alternative method for heavy oil resources because it initiates a series of reactions, has low surface energy consumption, and has low waste production. In this study, we employed sodium nanoparticles to investigate the recovery improvement relying on the unique reactions that produce heat, gas, and in-situ surfactant (“soap”). Next, we applied this method to extract oil from Athabasca oil sand samples. We flooded a heavy oil-saturated sand pack in a core holder with nanofluid suspended in a dispersant fluid to see the incremental recovery that can be realized after an initial brine flood process and compared it to a baseline experiment using only dispersant fluid. We also conducted a series of static and dynamic tests to investigate the efficiency of nanomaterial, and alkali fluid generated by a nanofluid, on total oil extraction. This project concluded that sodium nanofluid can affect recovery from heavy oil resources based on our results, which extracted a significant amount of oil from oil sands.