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Studies of liquid adsorption, condensation and surface conductivity in porous media

Hao Qi, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In the petroleum industry, accurate estimates of hydrocarbon reserve and its producibility are without a doubt among the most important issues. Quantitative estimates require the knowledge of three basic parameters of the rock formation: the porosity &phis;, the water saturation S w and the permeability k. Electrical conductivity is one of the most commonly made measurements used to deduce these quantities. Some empirical relationships used to make such estimates are quite well established and understood, however, many still lack a sound scientific foundation. Systematic laboratory investigation and theoretical understanding of the underlying petrophysics are much needed. This dissertation consists of three projects aimed at understanding both the surface conductivity observed in shaly sandstone, and the related phenomena of molecular adsorption on heterogeneous surfaces. In the first project, we carried out nitrogen adsorption experiments on three shale samples whose fractal dimensions had been previously characterized by small angle scattering (SANS). We found that analyzing the adsorption isotherm data according to the available theoretical predictions always resulted in D values that are lower than those obtained by SANS. The second project, a numerical simulation of adsorption on fractal surfaces, was designed to understand the origin of discrepancies revealed in the first project. We found that the interplay between van der Waals adsorption and capillary condensation always leads to a crossover between the two theoretical limits. The simulated isotherms exhibit the same general features we observed in our experimental data. The third project was aimed at understanding the surface conduction in porous media. We isolated the surface conductivity by growing water layers on the surface with water adsorption isotherm technique. Some of our results indicate that AC impedance measurement could let us determine the surface conductivity and separate it from that of the bulk, thereby more accurate estimates of oil saturation can be achieved in using the empirical Archie's relation. Our studies shed more light on the various aspects of the surface ionic conduction, including Debye - Hückle length, CPA phenomenon, and effects of saturation, cation species, temperature, and substrate.

Subject Area

Condensation|Petroleum production|Geotechnology

Recommended Citation

Qi, Hao, "Studies of liquid adsorption, condensation and surface conductivity in porous media" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3078714.