478610 Release Mechanism of Fluids Under Confinement: New Findings and Applications for Hydrocarbon Recovery

Sunday, November 13, 2016
Continental 4 & 5 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Khoa Bui, Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

4th Year Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests:

Existing approaches for oil and gas recovery are designed based on macroscopic properties of the produced hydrocarbon fluids. However, recent studies on source rocks revealed that properties of fluids stored in nanopores of organic constituent material kerogen deviate from the bulk behavior. Hence, the traditional equation of state and fluid properties correlations are no longer applicable. This, in turn, leads to added uncertainties in hydrocarbon in-place and recovery calculations for the source rocks that are rich in kerogen such as shales.

First, I seek to address the above question at a fundamental level from the thermodynamics standpoint by simulating isothermal expansion of a quinary hydrocarbon mixture in model nanopore under typical subsurface conditions, and measuring the fluid composition and recovery factor. I found that nanopore confinement limits significantly the release of hydrocarbon molecules from the pores with sizes less than 10nm. For each hydrocarbon component, a strong correlation exists between molar fraction of the component in the produced fluid with that remained inside the pore. This correlation can serve as the basis for establishing alternative methods for the recovery calculations.

Second, molecular dynamics simulations were employed to investigate the possibility of mobilizing the oil phase, modeled as pure n-heptane, in nanopores by utilizing solubilized solvent in the form of microemulsion droplets. In the case of solubilized terpene, the swollen micelles adsorb on the surface as one entity which is different from the conventional behavior of micelles. The delivery of surfactant to the interface is controlled by the solvent concentration inside the microemulsion droplet. The solvent, originally solubilized in a microemulsion droplet, penetrates the thin film of oil. Furthermore, those solvent molecules displace the oil molecules in the adsorbed phase and transform that portion of oil into free oil. The results are important for our understanding of microemulsion behavior under confinement and its application to organic rich shale oil recovery.

My research focuses on utilizing multi-scale modeling techniques together with high performance computing to gain insight into various engineering problems and seek answers from the thermodynamics and physical standpoint. I am particularly interested in heat transfer in nanocomposites, phase behavior and flow in porous media, storage and release mechanism of fluid in nanopores, and surfactant-based enhanced oil recovery. My formulation for delivering successful and high quality research work is collaboration and diversity. I look forward to collaborate with other faculty members in the department and industrial partners.

Teaching Interests:

I’m interested in building up a new course related to properties of materials and fluids at the microscopic scale for engineering practices. This course will equip our students with the knowledge of heat transfer in nanocomposites, phase behavior and flow in nanopores and how to enhance hydrocarbon recovery from unconventional resources. For example, macroscopic properties such as pore pressure, viscosity, interfacial tension and phase behavior of oil and gas inside the nanopores can be investigated by looking at how fluid molecules interact with the rock particles at the fundamental level of thermodynamics and physics. Students will learn both the theories and the practice of using multi-scale modeling techniques to tackle realistic engineering problems. In fact, the material of this course will be based on my research experience and other advanced work in the field of nanotechnology. This course will be a unique addition to the curriculum of not only petroleum but also other engineering programs. More important, I enjoy teaching and mentoring students in the academic environment during my postdoc and my graduate study.

Other experiences and Awards:

  • Senior Research Associate at Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M University, 2014 to current.
  • Developing new research topics and co-writing proposals submitted to Crisman Institute 2013-2016, Flotek Inc. 2013-2016.
  • Serving in the graduate student committees of Department of Petroleum Engineering, Texas A&M university.
  • Active reviewer of Reviews in Chemical Engineering Journal, Society of Petroleum Engineering (SPE) Journal and Applied Surface Science Journal.
  • Explorations in Science through Computation Student Award, Supercomputing Conference 2010, New Orleans, LA.


Selected publications:

Bui, K., Akkutlu, I. Y., Natural Gas Recovery from Kerogen Nanopores, SPE Journal, revised manuscript
submitted 2016.

2. Bui, K., Akkutlu, I. Y., Zelenev, A. et al. Insights into Mobilization of Shale Oil by Use of Microemulsion,
SPE Journal, SPE-178630-PA, 2016.

3. Dimitrios V. Papavassiliou, Khoa Bui and Huong Nguyen, Thermal Boundary Resistance Effects in Carbon Nanotube Composites - Book Chapter, ISBN: 978-1-119-06893-8, Wiley, 2016.

4. Bui, Khoa; Akkutlu, Yucel, Nanopore wall effect on surface tension of methane, Molecular Physics, Vol
113, 22, 2015.

5. Feng Gong, Khoa Bui, Dimitrios V. Papavassiliou, Hai M. Duong, Thermal transport phenomena and
limitations in heterogeneous polymer composites containing carbon nanotubes and inorganic nanoparticles. Carbon 78, 2014.

6. Bui, Khoa; Grady, Brian P.; Saha, Mrinal C.; Papavassiliou, Dimitrios V. Effect of Carbon Nanotube
Persistence Length on Heat Transfer in Nanocomposites: A Simulation Approach. Applied Physics
, vol. 102, 20, 2013.

7. Bui, Khoa; Grady, Brian P.; Papavassiliou, Dimitrios V., Heat transfer in high volume fraction CNT
nanocomposites: Effects of inter-nanotube thermal resistance. Chemical Physics Letters, vol. 508, 2011.

Extended Abstract: File Uploaded