Higher stability of the bulk and dynamic foam with polymer addition to the aqueous phase has been demonstrated experimentally. Recent experiments indicated that the efficacy of polymer enhanced foam (PEF) is dependent on polymer type and surfactant-polymer interaction. However, numerical modeling of PEF flow in porous media has been relatively less well understood due to the additional complexity. In this work, we propose modifications to the population-balance foam model for PEF modeling, and their successful use in matching the experimental results.
The population-balance model proposed by Chen and co-workers has been used as development platform. Upon reviewing various aspects in the physics of foam generation, coalescence and mobility reduction in porous media with the addition of polymer, a modified population-balance model was proposed with new parameters pertaining to the polymer effect on the net foam generation and the limiting capillary pressure. The new model was implemented and used to history match foam coreflood experiments with and without polymer.
In addition to the foam apparent viscosity increase due to higher viscosity of the aqueous phase, polymer also impacts foamability and foam stability of bulk foam as indicated in the literature. Our modified population-balance model introduce the viscosity terms in foam generation and coalescence coefficients to account for postulated positive impact on reducing liquid drainage and foam coalescence and negative impact on the characteristic time needed for bubble snap-off in porous media. Additionally, a modification in the limiting capillary pressure was proposed in the new model to include the polymer effect based on our analysis of the disjoining pressure. Two new model parameters are proposed and implemented accordingly. The new foam model succeeded in history-matching the anionic-surfactant-based and nonionic-surfactant-based PEF corefloods with different types of polymers through tuning the two new model parameters. The simulations also captured the transient increasing of the pressure drops induced by polymer transport and adsorption. The proposed model can be used to provide meaningful values of the model parameters that were able to explain the physical mechanisms behind the PEF floods and to guide future experimental design to further constraint the choices of model parameters.
This work provided new methodology to model PEF flow in porous media using the mechanistic population-balance approach for the first time. With proper calibrations of the parameters proposed in the model, the new model can therefore be used to simulate PEF EOR processes to describe the combined effect of foam and polymer on the mobility control of the injectants.