Quantifying mineral surface energy by scanning force microscopy

J Colloid Interface Sci. 2016 Jun 15;472:237-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2016.03.049. Epub 2016 Mar 23.

Abstract

Fundamental understanding of the wettability of carbonate formations can potentially be applied to the development of oil recovery strategies in a complex carbonate reservoir. In the present study, surface energies of representative carbonate samples were evaluated by direct quantitative force measurements, using scanning force microscopy (SFM) at sub-micron scale, to develop a reliable method to predict reservoir wettability. Local adhesion force measurements were conducted on appropriate calcite and dolomite samples and performed in air as well as in the presence of polar and nonpolar fluids. This study demonstrated that, by comparing measurements of adhesion forces between samples of the same mineral in different fluids, it is feasible to determine the surface energy of a given mineral as well as its polar and nonpolar components. The derived values are in agreement with literature. A proof-of-principle protocol has been established to quantify surface energy using SFM-based adhesion measurements. This novel methodology complements the conventional contact angle measurement technique, where surface energy can only be examined at large length scale. The reported methodology has great potential for further optimization into a new standard method for fast and accurate surface energy determination, and hence provides a new tool for reservoir rock wettability characterization.

Keywords: Calcite; Dolomite; SFM; Surface energy; Wettability.