Enhancement of oil flow in shale nanopores by manipulating friction and viscosity
Understanding the viscosity and friction of a fluid under nanoconfinement is the key to nanofluidics research. Existing work on nanochannel flow enhancement has been focused on simple systems with only one to two fluids considered such as water flow in carbon nanotubes, and large slip lengths have been found to be the main factor for the massive flow enhancement. In this study, we use molecular dynamics simulations to study the fluid flow of a ternary mixture of octane–carbon dioxide–water confined within two muscovite and kerogen surfaces. The results indicate that, in a muscovite slit, supercritical CO2 (scCO2) and H2O both enhance the flow of octane due to (i) a decrease in the friction of octane with the muscovite wall because of the formation of thin layers of H2O and scCO2 near the surfaces; and (ii) a reduction in the viscosity of octane in nanoconfinement. Water reduces octane viscosity by weakening the interaction of octane with the muscovite surface, while scCO2 reduces octane viscosity by weakening both octane–octane and octane–surface interactions. In a kerogen slit, water does not play any significant role in changing the friction or viscosity of octane. In contrast, scCO2 reduces both the friction and the viscosity of octane, and the enhancement of octane flow is mainly caused by the reduction of viscosity. Our results highlight the importance of multicomponent interactions in nanoscale fluid transport. The results presented here also have a direct implication in enhanced oil recovery in unconventional reservoirs.