497. Investigating the behaviour of NaCl brines and hydrocarbons in porous alumina using low-field NMR relaxation and diffusion methods

Aristarchos Mavridis, Mark Sankey, Kuhan Chellappah, Carmine D’Agostino, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, (2024), DOI: 10.1039/D4CP00361F

The behaviour of multiple fluid phases within a porous medium is hard to predict. NMR measurements offer an excellent tool to probe such systems in a fast and non-invasive way. Such systems can be relevant to hydrocarbon recovery, catalysis, CO2 and H2 geo-storage, among others. Since electrolyte solutions are always present in subsurface reservoirs, understanding their behaviour within porous media is highly important. In this study, we use NMR relaxation and diffusion methods to investigate the diffusion coefficients and strength of interactions between alumina surfaces and brines of various NaCl concentrations, focusing on the effect of salt concentration on transport and interactions within the porous structure. Furthermore, we study the spontaneous displacement of dodecane, a model hydrocarbon, from the same alumina pellets using the same brine solutions. Results show that the brines of lower salinity consistently displace more dodecane in total, after soaking dodecanesaturated pellets in a brine solution for several days. This indicates that increased salt concentrations can reduce wettability towards the aqueous phase in simple metal oxide surfaces and highlights the capabilities of NMR to efficiently study such systems.