Nanotechnology Applied to Thermal Enhanced Oil Recovery Processes: A Review
The increasing demand for fossil fuels and the depleting of light crude oil in the next years generates the need to exploit heavy and unconventional crude oils. To face this challenge, the oil and gas industry has chosen the implementation of new technologies capable of improving the efficiency in the enhanced recovery oil (EOR) processes. In this context, the incorporation of nanotechnology through the development of nanoparticles and nanofluids to increase the productivity of heavy and
... of heavy and extra-heavy crude oils has taken significant importance, mainly through thermal enhanced oil recovery (TEOR) processes. The main objective of this paper is to provide an overview of nanotechnology applied to oil recovery technologies with a focus on thermal methods, elaborating on the upgrading of the heavy and extra-heavy crude oils using nanomaterials from laboratory studies to field trial proposals. In detail, the introduction section contains general information about EOR processes, their weaknesses, and strengths, as well as an overview that promotes the application of nanotechnology. Besides, this review addresses the physicochemical properties of heavy and extra-heavy crude oils in Section 2. The interaction of nanoparticles with heavy fractions such as asphaltenes and resins, as well as the variables that can influence the adsorptive phenomenon are presented in detail in Section 3. This section also includes the effects of nanoparticles on the other relevant mechanisms in TEOR methods, such as viscosity changes, wettability alteration, and interfacial tension reduction. The catalytic effect influenced by the nanoparticles in the different thermal recovery processes is described in Sections 4, 5, 6, and 7. Finally, Sections 8 and 9 involve the description of an implementation plan of nanotechnology for the steam injection process, environmental impacts, and recent trends. Additionally, the review proposes critical stages in order to obtain a successful application of nanoparticles in thermal oil recovery processes.