Porous Media Research Collaboration with King Abdullah University of Science & Technology

March 25, 2021 / pa/sä

Majid Hassanizadeh, emeritus professor of the Utrecht University (Netherlands), senior professor of the University of Stuttgart (Germany) and SFB 1313’s external partner and Mercator professor as well as an associated member of SimTech, will be a visiting faculty at the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST), for a period of three months starting on 1 April 2021. He will be collaborating there with Prof. Shuyu Sun to carry out research on pore-scale mechanisms of low-salinity effect on enhanced oil recovery. During this collaboration, Prof. Sun and Prof. Hassanizadeh will perform molecular dynamics simulations to understand how the saltwater with different concentrations in contact with oil droplets will change wettability and cause the mobilization of droplet. These results will be then compared with experimental results carried out in Utrecht. Furthermore, Majid Hassanizadeh will be giving lectures on “Investigation of pore-scale mechanisms of low salinity effect on enhanced oil recovery” for master and PhD students.

About the project

In recent years, research activity on a recovery technique known as low salinity water flooding has grown. Also, the field application of this enhanced oil recovery technique has increased significantly. The main motivation for the field application of low salinity water flooding is the improvement of oil recovery by acceleration of production, compared to conventional high salinity brine injection. There have been many core- and field-scale studies to show the efficiency of low salinity water flooding. Its positive effect has been shown beyond doubt. However, the underlying mechanisms that potentially explain the recovery enhancement are not well known yet. What is for sure is that the effect has its roots at the pore and sub-pore scales. Although some laboratory studies have been performed on this subject, there is still much uncertainty about the relevance and role of various mechanisms that have been considered. Reducing such uncertainties will lead to improving our predictive capability that allows to pre-select potential field candidates based on easily obtained properties, without the need of running time- and cost- intensive tests. To this end, a combination of pore-scale experiments and pore-scale computational studies is needed.

Short courses and interactions with students

The proposed research project will be used to get students at KAUST interested in science and technology by engaging them in active research in fundamental processes controlling some enhanced oil recovery techniques. In particular, KAUST graduate students will be closely collaborating with Prof. Hassanizadeh during his stay at KAUST. Weekly group meetings will be held to address scientific issues arising in the research and to discuss potential approaches. The main results of the proposed research will be presented by Prof. Hassanizadeh and discussed during these meetings. In addition, short seminars on two-phase flow theories, pore-scale experimental studies, and pore-scale computational research will be offered to computational transport phenomena lab (CTPL), and part of the material and contents will also be incorporated in the classroom courses taught by Prof. Sun at KAUST for both masters and PhD students.

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