Nanoemulsions are a class of emulsions with a droplet size in the range of 50-500 nm and have attracted a great deal of attention in recent years because of its unique characteristics. The physicochemical properties of nanoemulsion suggests that it can be successfully used to recover the residual oil which is trapped in the fine pore of reservoir rock by capillary forces after primary and secondary recovery. Oil-in-water nanoemulsion which can be formed by high-energy emulsification techniques using specific surfactants can reduce oil-water interfacial tension (IFT) by 3-4 orders of magnitude. The present work is aimed on characterization of oil-in-water nanoemulsion in terms of its phase behavior, morphological studies; interfacial energy; ability to reduce the interfacial tension and understanding the mechanisms of mobilization and displacement of entrapped oil blobs by lowering interfacial tension both at the macroscopic and microscopic level.
In order to investigate the efficiency of oil-water nanoemulsion in enhanced oil recovery (EOR), experiments were performed to characterize the emulsion in terms of their physicochemical properties and size distribution of the dispersed oil droplet in water phase. Synthetic mineral oil and a series of nonionic ethoxylated surfactants were used to prepare oil-in-water emulsions. Characterization of emulsion shows that it follows pseudo-plastic behaviour and drop size of dispersed oil phase follows lognormal distribution. Flooding experiments were also carried out in a sandpack system to evaluate the effectiveness of the nanoemulsion as displacing fluid for enhanced oil recovery. Substantial additional recoveries (more than 30% of original oil in place) over conventional water flooding were obtained in the present investigation.