In situ hydrous pyrolysis/partial oxidation of organics at the site of the organics constrained in an subsurface reservoir produces surfactants that can form an oil/water emulsion that is effectively removed from an underground formation. The removal of the oil/water emulsions is particularly useful in several applications, e.g., soil contaminant remediation and enhanced oil recovery operations. A portion of the constrained organics react in heated reservoir water with injected steam containing dissolved oxygen gas at ambient reservoir conditions to produce such surfactants.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.