Viscoelastic surfactants (VES) are essential components in self-diverting acid systems. Their low thermal stability limits their application at elevated temperatures. The industry introduced new VES chemistries with modified hydrophilic functional groups, which enhances their thermal stability. These new chemistries are still challenged by the lack of compatibility with corrosion inhibitors (CI). This work aims to study the nature and the mechanism of the interaction between the VES and the corrosion inhibitors, which affects both the rheological and corrosion inhibition characteristics of the self-diverting acid system.
This study is based on rheology and corrosion inhibition tests, where combinations of VES and corrosion inhibitors are tested and complemented with chemical and microscopic analysis. Negatively charged thiourea and positively charged quaternary ammonium corrosion inhibitors were selected to study their impact on both cationic and zwitterionic VES systems. Each mixture of the corrosion inhibitor and the VES was blended in a 15 and 20 wt% HCl acid mixture, then assessed for its viscosity at different shear rates, CI concentrations, and temperatures up to 280°F in live and spent acid conditions. Each acid solution was assessed using Fourier-Transform-Infra-Red (FTIR) before and after each rheology and corrosion test to track the changes of the mixture functional groups. Each mixture was examined under a polarizing microscope to assess its colloidal nature. The corrosion inhibition effectiveness of selected acid mixtures was evaluated. N-80 steel coupons were immersed statically in the acid mixture for 6 hours at 150°F and 1,000 psi. The corrosion rate was evaluated by using metal coupon weight loss analysis followed by optical microscope examination for the metal surface.
The interaction between the CI and the VES surface charges and molecular geometries dictates both the rheological and the inhibitive properties of the acid mixtures. The use of a small molecular structure anionic CI with a cationic VES, results in a fine monodispersed CI particles in the VES-acid system. The opposite charges between the CI and the VES results in electrostatic attraction forces. Both the fine dispersion and the electrostatic attraction enhances the rheological performance of the mixture and packs the corrosion-inhibiting layer. The addition of a bulk and similarly charged CI with the VES results in a coarse polydispersed CI particles with repulsive nature with the VES. These properties increase the shear-induced structures and lower the packing of the inhibition layer deposited on the metal coupons, which decrease the rheological performance of the acid mixture and increase its corrosion rate. The FTIR analysis shows that there is no chemical reaction between the CIs and the VESs tested.
This work investigates the interactions between the corrosion inhibitors and the viscoelastic surfactants. It explains the impact of the surface charge of both corrosion inhibitors and VES on their rheological and corrosion inhibition characteristics. It adds a selection criterion for compatible VES and corrosion inhibitors.