Experimentation and modeling of surface chemistry of the silica-water interface for low salinity waterflooding at elevated temperatures

Timothy S. Duffy, Balaji Raman, Derek M. Hall, Michael L. Machesky, Russell T. Johns, Serguei N. Lvov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Models predicting wettability alteration of mineral-brine-oil interfaces during low-salinity-waterflooding (LSW) should account for the elevated temperatures typically found in oil reservoirs. For the first time, high temperature ζ-potential (zeta potential) data for silica are collected and used to interpret surface chemistries and interactions at reservoir-like conditions to predict temperature's effect on wettability alteration. Mobility data for amorphous silica in varying NaCl(aq) concentrations at 25, 100, and 150 °C and neutral pH were obtained through microelectrophoresis experiments. Calculated ζ-potentials were fit with surface complexation model (SCM) parameters to predict electrical double layer (EDL) parameters based upon the Gouy-Chapman-Stern-Grahame (GCSG) model. ζ-potentials increased with increasing temperature (around 50% increase from 25 to 150 °C) and decreasing NaCl concentrations (10 −1 –10 −4 mol kg −1 ). These trends, along with Derjaguin-Verwey-Landau-Overbeek (DLVO) theory, suggests that overall repulsive forces extend farther from the surface at low salinity and higher temperatures, implying greater wetting thickness/surface wettability in these environments. The resulting surface concentration calculations suggest that LSW is most impactful up to 10 −2 mol kg −1 of salt, and that additional dilution below 10 −3 mol kg −1 will negligibly impact oil recovery, particularly at reservoir temperatures above 100 °C. The analysis provides a framework for treating more complex reservoir systems, such as carbonates in multivalent brines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-243
Number of pages11
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
StatePublished - Jun 5 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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