Journal Of Petroleum Science And Engineering vol:20 issue:3-4 pages:177-183
This paper presents recent experimental and theoretical results concerning the wetting behavior of n-alkanes on water as a function of thermodynamic conditions (i.e., temperature, pressure, etc.). The transition from lenses to a macroscopically thick film, that takes place when the temperature is increased, occurs for n-alkanes on water in a manner very different from that encountered in other fluid systems. For n-pentane on water, ellipsometric measurements reveal that the growth of the pentane layer to a macroscopically thick film occurs in a continuous manner, for a temperature(approximate to 53 degrees C) corresponding to a change in the sign of the. Hamaker constant. A theoretical approach based on the Cahn-Landau theory, which takes into account long-range (van der Waals) forces, enables us to explain the mechanism of this continuous wetting transition. This transition is preceded (at a lower temperature) by a discontinuous transition from a thin film (of adsorbed molecules) to a thick (but not macroscopically thick) Nm. The latter transition was not visible for pentane on water (it should occur below the freezing temperature for water), but we expect to observe it for longer alkanes (e.g., hexane) on water. Work is underway to examine the wetting behavior of oil/brine systems more representative of reservoir conditions. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.