In secondary oil recovery water is used to pump oil out of the reservoir. The difference in viscosity leads to an unstable water/oil interface. This instability can manifest itself as Saffman-Taylor fingering. A third species of higher viscosity (such as a polymer) is sometimes added in front of the water and this creates a highly stable leading interface and a highly unstable trailing interface.
This project will look at characterising the variable viscosity case when the hot rock triggers polymer gelling. Eventually, we might be able to optimise the plug length given the finite residence time in the field. These gelling processes might also be useful for blocking off spent, higher permeability aquifers thus directing the water to lower permeability layers that still contain extractable oil.
MEng - Chemical Engineering (The University of Cambridge)