Mobilization of the residual oil by salinity gradients

A microfluidic setup is established to investigate the movement of oil droplets in a microcapillary, which resembles the mobilization of residual oil in the pore throat of reservoir rocks.

The project aims to understand the mechanisms of smart waterflooding and to optimize the composition of water injected to flood a petroleum reservoir.

Residual oil exists in the form of separate oil droplets surrounded by reservoir brine in the pore throat of reservoir rocks, which has a dimension of submicron to tens of microns.


Mobilization of the droplets by the injected brine of a different salinity and ion composition is a principal physico-chemical process for the success of recovery by the so-called smart waterflooding.


With numerous theoretical and core-flooding studies on smart waterflooding, the mechanism still remains unclear.


In this project, we establish a microfluidic setup to generate oil droplets in brines and guide the droplet into a glass capillary with a dimension close to the size of pore throats.


The movement of the droplet is subsequently studied with varied salinity and ionic composition of the brine in which the droplet moves.


This project aims to understand the mechanisms of smart waterflooding from the microscopic behavior of oil droplets.


With a better understanding of the mechanism, it is further expected to optimize the brine composition applied to flood a petroleum reservoir in such oil recovery process.


Tian Wang
DTU Chemical Engineering


Alexander Chapiro
Associate Professor
DTU Chemical Engineering
+45 45 25 28 81


Simon Ivar Andersen
Research Director and Professor, Chemical Impact of Offshore Energy Production
DTU Offshore
+45 93 51 07 58