It is generally assumed that while the presence of foam reduces the mobility of the gas phase, it does not alter the mobility of the liquid phase. Here, the effect of surfactant type and concentration on the behavior of nitrogen foam flow in porous media is investigated by simultaneous injection of gas and surfactant into Bentheimer sandstone cores. Different surfactant types, viz., anionic alpha-olefin-sulfonate (AOS) and zwitterionic Betaine with different surfactant concentrations from critical-micelle-concentration (CMC) to higher concentration are used in this study. The foam strength is quantified by measuring the pressure drop in different sections of the core. The liquid saturation is measured by analyzing the X-ray images obtained in a medical CT-scanner.
It is shown that the connate water saturation is reduced by increasing the surfactant concentration, and therefore the relative permeability relation for the aqueous phase should be modified when fitting the data to the foam models. It is observed that it is not possible to fit one monotonic liquid relative permeability curve to all the data points, obtained with different surfactant type and concentration in one rock type. Moreover, increasing AOS concentration above a certain value does not have a significant effect on the mobility reduction of the gas phase; however it modifies the liquid relative permeability. These results indicate that the water relative permeability measured in absence of surfactant should not be used to model the flow of foam in porous media, as it can lead to erroneous calculations of the liquid saturation.