Polymer flow in porous media represents an entirely different scenario compared to bulk flow analysis using viscometers. This is due to the geometry and configuration of the medium which is made up of converging-diverging flow paths. In this article, a review of the single-phase flow of hydrophobically associating polymers in porous media is presented. Hydrophobic association between these polymer chains have been reported to occur and vary under reservoir conditions (temperature, salinity, and ion concentration). However, under these conditions, the critical aggregation concentration of associating polymers has been observed to change and the extent of change is a function of the hydrophobe make-up of the polymer. The outcome of this would indicate that polymer injectivity and its oil recovery efficiency are affected. As such, an understanding of the mechanism, propagation and sustainability of these hydrophobic interactions in reservoirs remains a critical focus of research. This becomes even imperative as the in-situ rheological profile associated with the different flow regimes may be affected. A numerical approach to investigating the real-time hydrophobic interactions between associating polymer chains during flow in porous media remains the viable option. However, this would require modifying existing time-independent models to accurately predict the various flow regimes and the dispersion of associating polymers to account for hydrophobic interactions.
Afolabi, R. O., Oluyemi, G. F., Officer, S., & Ugwu, J. O. (2019). Hydrophobically associating polymers for enhanced oil recovery – Part B: A review of modelling approach to flow in porous media. Journal of Molecular Liquids, 111495. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.molliq.2019.111495