Polymers for Enhanced Oil Recovery

Commercially available polymers provide effective mobility control in homogeneous reservoirs, but conformance problems in heterogeneous reservoirs can result in low sweep efficiencies and costly material losses. Additionally, poor stability at high temperatures (above 100 oC) and high salinities (up to 150,000 ppm TDS, hardness up to 5000 ppm) results in limited applicability of commercial polymers under these conditions. The Verduzco laboratory is working to develop new polymeric materials for addressing both challenges. First, high-molecular weight linear polymers with a more thermally stable backbone and zwitterionic repeat units will be synthesized and tested for mobility control in high temperature/high salinity reservoirs. Second, highly branched polymers will be tested addressing reservoir conformance issues. Highly branched polymers may give a significant increase in viscosity at low concentrations and offer opportunities for a viscosity increase in response to environmental stimuli (e.g. temperature, pH, salinity).