Workflow for upscaling wettability from the nanoscale to core scale

Maja Rücker, Willem Bart Bartels, Tom Bultreys, Marijn Boone, Kamaljit Singh, Gaetano Garfi, Alessio Scanziani, Catherine Spurin, Sherifat Yesufu-Rufai, Samuel Krevor, Martin J. Blunt, Ove Wilson, Hassan Mahani, Veerle Cnudde, Paul F. Luckham, Apostolos Georgiadis, Steffen Berg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Wettability is a key factor influencing multiphase flow in porous media. In addition to the average contact angle, the spatial distribution of contact angles throughout the porous medium is important, as it directly controls the connectivity of wetting and nonwetting phases. The controlling factors may not only relate to the surface chemistry of minerals but also to their texture, which implies that a length-scale range from nanometers to centimeters has to be considered. So far, an integrated workflow addressing wettability consistently through the different scales does not exist. In this study, we demonstrate that such a workflow is possible by combining microcomputed tomography (uCT) imaging with atomic-force microscopy (AFM). We find that in a carbonate rock, consisting of 99.9% calcite with a dual-porosity structure, wettability is ultimately controlled by the surface texture of the mineral. Roughness and texture variation within the rock control the capillary pressure required for initializing proper crude oil-rock contacts that allow aging and subsequent wettability alteration. AFM enables us to characterize such surface-fluid interactions and to investigate the surface texture. In this study, we use AFM to image nanoscale fluid-configurations in 3D at connate water saturation and compare the fluid configuration with simulations on the rock surface, assuming different capillary pressures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-205
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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