Phase behavior and interfacial properties of a switchable ethoxylated amine surfactant at high temperature and effects on CO2-in-water foams

by Chen, Yunshen; Elhag, Amro S.; Reddy, Prathima P.; Chen, Hao; Cui, Leyu; Worthen, Andrew J.; Ma, Kun; Quintanilla, Heriberto; Noguera, Jose A.; Hirasaki, George J.; Nguyen, Quoc P.; Biswal, Sibani L.; Johnston, Keith P.

JOURNAL OF COLLOID AND INTERFACE SCIENCE, 470, pg 80-91, DOI: 10.1016/j.jcis.2016.02.028

The interfacial properties for surfactants at the supercritical CO2-water (C-W) interface at temperatures above 80 degrees C have very rarely been reported given limitations in surfactant solubility and chemical stability. These limitations, along with the weak solvent strength of CO2, make it challenging to design surfactants that adsorb at the C-W interface, despite the interest in CO2-in-water (C/W) foams (also referred to as macroemulsions). Herein, we examine the thermodynamic, interfacial and rheological properties of the surfactant C12-14N(EO)(2) in systems containing brine and/or supercritical CO2 at elevated temperatures and pressures. Because the surfactant is switchable from the nonionic state to the protonated cationic state as the pH is lowered over a wide range in temperature, it is readily soluble in brine in the cationic state below pH 5.5, even up to 120 degrees C, and also in supercritical CO2 in the nonionic state. As a consequence of the affinity for both phases, the surfactant adsorption at the CO2-water interface was high, with an area of 207 angstrom(2)/molecule. Remarkably, the surfactant lowered the interfacial tension (IFT) down to similar to 5 mN/m at 120 degrees C and 3400 psia (23 MPa), despite the low CO2 density of 0.48 g/ml, indicating sufficient solvation of the surfactant tails. The phase behavior and interfacial properties of the surfactant in the cationic form were favorable for the formation and stabilization of bulk C/W foam at high temperature and high salinity. Additionally, in a 1.2 Darcy glass bead pack at 120 degrees C, a very high foam apparent viscosity of 146 cP was observed at low interstitial velocities given the low degree of shear thinning. For a calcium carbonate pack, C/W foam was formed upon addition of Ca2+ and Mg2+ in the feed brine to keep the pH below 4, by the common ion effect, in order to sufficiently protonate the surfactant. The ability to form C/W foams at high temperatures is of interest for a variety of applications in chemical synthesis, separations, materials science, and subsurface energy production. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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