Recovery Mechanisms of Alkaline Flooding

  • T. P. Castor
  • W. H. Somerton
  • J. F. Kelly


In the alkaline flood process, the surfactant is generated by the in situ chemical reaction between the alkali of the aqueous phase and the organic acids of the oil phase. The surface-active reaction products can adsorb onto the rock surface to alter the wettability of the reservoir rock and/or can adsorb onto the oil-water interface to lower the interfacial tension. At these lowered tensions (1–10 dyne/cm), surface or shear-driven forces promote the formation of stable oil-in-water emulsions or unstable water-in-oil emulsions; the nature of the emulsion phase depends on the pH, temperature, and electrolyte type and concentration. These different paths of the surface-active reaction products have created different recovery mechanisms of alkaline flooding. The four alkaline recovery mechanisms which have been cited in the recent literature are: (i) Emulsification and Entrainment, (ii) Emulsification and Entrapment, (iii) Wettability Reversal from Oil-to Water-Wet, and (iv) Wettability Reversal from Water- to Oil-Wet. These four mechanisms are similar in that alkaline flooding enhances the recovery of acidic oil by two-stage processes.


Interfacial Tension Capillary Number Recovery Efficiency Sodium Oleate Recovery Mechanism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. P. Castor
    • 1
  • W. H. Somerton
    • 1
  • J. F. Kelly
    • 1
  1. 1.Mechanical Engineering DepartmentUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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