Coarse-Grained Simulations of Polymer-Grafted Nanoparticles: Structural Stability and Interfacial Behavior.

Abstract

In the tertiary oil recovery method known as "polymer flooding", the viscosity of the injected water is increased by dissolving partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide so as to lower the mobility ratio and raise the vertical and areal sweep efficiencies. However, its drawbacks include the degradation of the polymer in the reservoir due to (1) shear while passing through chokes, perforations, and pore throats, (2) morphological changes induced by divalent ions, and (3) complete hydrolysis of the polymer at high temperatures. These factors adversely affect the viscosity of the polymer flood. Past experimental research showed that polymer-grafted nanoparticles (PNPs) could achieve the same viscosity enhancement at lower quantities than traditional linear polymers. The PNPs have the putative advantage of greater stability when confronted with the aforementioned reservoir conditions. In this work, we use dissipative particle dynamics (DPD) to simulate the oil-PNP-water system at the mesoscale and estimate its sensitivity to brine in ways that could serve as guidelines to experiments. We study the effect of salinity on the structure of linear and branched polyelectrolytes before extending the DPD model to PNPs at the oil-water interface. To this end, we parameterize the interactions of the polymer with the oil and water phases, and broadly map out solvent conditions that change the graft's morphology and affect the interfacial behavior of the grafted particle. We find that the equilibrium location of the grafted nanoparticle in an oil-brine system depends on its grafting density and the salinity.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.6b06199

Cite this paper

@article{Nair2016CoarseGrainedSO, title={Coarse-Grained Simulations of Polymer-Grafted Nanoparticles: Structural Stability and Interfacial Behavior.}, author={Nitish Nair and Michelle Park and Jan-Willem Handgraaf and Fl{\'a}via M Cassiola}, journal={The journal of physical chemistry. B}, year={2016}, volume={120 35}, pages={9523-39} }