Diffusion Coefficient of n-Alkanes in Heavy Oil

Guerrero-Aconcha, U., Salama, D. and Kantzas, A.

DOI: 10.2118/115346-MS
SPE 115346, presented at the 2008 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition held in Denver, Colorado, USA 21024 September 2008.


The use of hydrocarbon solvents in the recovery of heavy oil has been increased because of the advantages they have over the thermal methods under some reservoir conditions. The injection of a miscible solvent in the reservoir implies a mass transfer process which is governed by a diffusion coefficient. Consequently the measurement of the diffusion coefficient is extremely important. This, however, presents a significant amount of challenges in the laboratory and in the data analysis, mainly because
of the viscous and opaque nature of the heavy oil and the dependence on concentration of the diffusion coefficient. The Matano-Boltzmann method has been used in the past to obtain the concentration dependency of the diffusion coefficient of solvents in heavy oil. Although the method successfully shows that such dependency exists, the results exhibit abnormal trends.

In this work the concentration profiles of three n-alkanes in heavy oil were obtained in the laboratory using Computed Assisted Tomography (CAT), and the “Slopes and Intercepts?? analytical technique was used to calculate the concentration-dependent diffusion coefficients. The results are in good agreement with the theory of diffusion in binary mixtures. In addition a comparison is presented with the Matano-Boltzmann method. Finally the Vignes model was successfully used to also perform predictions on the studied systems.

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