Shear stability of EOR polymers

A. Zaitoun*, P. Makakou, N. Blin, R. S. Al-Maamari, A. R. Al-Hashmi, M. Abdel-Goad, H. H. Al-Sharji

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Citations (Scopus)


An experimental study of shear stability of several high-molecularweight polymers used as mobility-control agents in EOR projects has been performed in well-controlled conditions. The shearing device was made of a capillary tube with an internal diameter (ID) of 125 μm, through which polymer solution was injected at a controlled rate. The setup enables a precise measurement of the shear rate to which the polymer macromolecule is submitted. The degradation rate was measured by the viscosity loss induced by the passage into the capillary tube. The shear rate was gradually increased up to 106 sec-1 while checking degradation rate at each stage. Different commercial EOR polymer products were submitted to the test with polyacrylamide backbone and different substitution monomer groups. All macromolecules behave as flexible coils in solution. The parameters investigated were • Molecular weight (between 6 and 20×106) • Nature of substitution group (acrylate, ATBS/sulfonate, nVP/ vinyl-pyrrolidone) • Salinity Polymer shear degradation increases with molecular weight and salinity, but decreases with the presence of acrylate, ATBS, and nVP. All results can be interpreted in terms of chain flexibility. The highly flexible polyacrylamide homopolymer is the most sensitive to shear degradation. Introduction of acrylate groups in the polymer chain induces some stability because of the rigidity provided by charge repulsion, which vanishes in the presence of high salinity because of the screening of acrylate negative charges. ATBS and VP groups, which are larger in size, provide significant chain rigidity, and thus better shear stability. It is also shown that some very-high-molecular-weight polymers, after passing the shearing device, attain a final viscosity lower than lower-molecular-weight products with the same chemical composition. This factor has to be taken into account in the final choice of a polymer for a given field application. As a comparison, although less popular today than 2 decades ago, xanthan gum (XG), which behaves like a semirigid rod, is shown to be much less sensitive to the shear-degradation test than the coiled polyacrylamides (Sorbie 1991). copyright

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-339
Number of pages5
JournalSPE Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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