Combined microfluidics–confocal Raman microscopy platform for studying enhanced oil recovery mechanisms

Jun Gao* (Corresponding Author), Sachin Nair, Michel H.G. Duits, Cees Otto, Frieder Mugele

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


To study the mechanism of enhanced oil recovery, it is important to characterize the three-dimensional spatial distribution of various chemical species, especially water and oil, and their evolution during the course of water flooding. For example, visualizing the (selective) removal of oil from clay or silica substrates by low salinity water can yield important insights. Here, we present a platform that uses a microfluidic device (to represent water flooding at the pore scale) in combination with confocal Raman microscopy. Distributions of oil, water, and minerals are resolved at submicrometer resolution upon flooding water with changing composition. Using glass and gibbsite to mimic sandstone and clay, and water containing divalent cations (Ca 2+ ), we find that oil containing a fatty acid preferentially adsorbs on the gibbsite. Removal of the divalent cations leads to release of the oil droplet. This finding is consistent with the multiple ion exchange mechanism and underlines that the presence of clay is important for low salinity enhanced oil recovery. We expect that our platform will pave the road towards systematic screening of water flood compositions in more complex systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)996-1007
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of raman spectroscopy
Issue number7
Early online date1 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Enhanced oil recovery
  • Low salinity
  • Microfluidics
  • Confocal Raman microscopy


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