Lab-on-a-chip solutions for EOR
Anyone conducting studies in the field of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) would want to work with a setup that is as natural as possible. Although making use of ‘real’ rock segments seems preferable, this also has its downsides:
- there is no controlled manner to flow fluid through a physical rock
- looking inside or between rock pores is almost impossible.
Lab-on-a-chip technology has an answer to this! At Micronit, we have designed chips that mimic the physical rock as accurately as possible. The chips can even be optically clear so you can see through the on-chip fabricated rock. These chips allow your EOR experiments to be carried out in a simple and controlled manner.
Whether using thermal (TEOR), chemical (CEOR), or microbial (MEOR) methods, the lab-on-a-chip technology enables reliable testing of the effectiveness of any type of enhanced oil recovery. The chips are used for initial experiments and proof of concept.
Micronit’s EOR chips are available in three varieties. The difference is in the fluidic network on the chip surface that mimics the rock structure. You can choose between a random structure, a uniform structure, and a physical rock structure.
Randomly placed porous structure, often used for CEOR and MEOR experiments.
A systematically organized and well-defined structure of equally sized pores and channels.
Physical rock structure:
A pseudo rock pore design with pores and channels created from digitized scans of physical sandstone rocks.
Production process of the chips
Our glass EOR models are manufactured from borosilicate glass, which has a main content of SiO2 (BF33 > 80%, D263 > 64%), which also forms the main content of sandstone. The chip structures are created in the glass by means of isotropic etching. In this etching technique, acids make the non-masked parts of the glass disappear equally fast in all directions. This results in rounded corners and rounded channel structures (the channel is narrower at the bottom than at the top). The remaining surface is ultrasmooth and fully optical transparent. Inlets and outlets are created by powder blasting. These standard hydrophilic chips can be optionally coated to create hydrophobic surfaces.
How should I use these chips?
The EOR chips can be used in combination with our topconnect chip holders. We also offer complete setups, containing the chip holder, a set of chips with the structure of your choice and matching tubing. We have both a low pressure system (4-5 bar) and a high pressure chipholder solution (up to ~80 bar) available.
What if I need something else?
Are you looking for this principle, but does your research require different chip properties? We have created a large amount of custom designed EOR models over the years, including work for major leading oil & gas companies.
Two examples of customized EOR chips:
- One of our customers developed a method to fabricate a thin layer of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) nanocrystals inside the fluidic system of our chips. This way, the chip even more realistically mimics real calcium carbonate reservoir properties of certain rocks (CaCO3 is a component of limestone, for instance). If you are curious to read more about this development, see Toward Reservoir-on-a-Chip: Fabricating Reservoir Micromodels by in Situ Growing Calcium Carbonate Nanocrystals in Microfluidic Channels.
- EOR chip designs can also be manufactured as silicon-glass hybrids. Using anisotropic etching techniques, high aspect ratio structures can be created in silicon. (The silicon is only removed in one direction.) Typically in these hybrid platforms, a very thin silicon layer is sandwiched between two glass layers. Details are explained in this article: Real structure micromodels based on reservoir rocks for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) applications.
As you can see, there is a world of possibilities. Are you working on an EOR project and looking for a customized lab-on-a-chip solution? Contact us and together, we’ll take a look at your options!
- EOR starter kit low pressure - topconnect (incl. syringe pumps)
- Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) setup - high pressure (no pumps included)
- Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) setup - low pressure (no pumps included)