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In situ generation of steam and alkaline surfactant for enhanced oil recovery using an exothermic water reactant (EWR)

United States Patent

May 24, 2011
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
Idaho National Laboratory - Visit the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office Website
A method for oil recovery whereby an exothermic water reactant (EWR) encapsulated in a water soluble coating is placed in water and pumped into one or more oil wells in contact with an oil bearing formation. After the water carries the EWR to the bottom of the injection well, the water soluble coating dissolves and the EWR reacts with the water to produce heat, an alkali solution, and hydrogen. The heat from the EWR reaction generates steam, which is forced into the oil bearing formation where it condenses and transfers heat to the oil, elevating its temperature and decreasing the viscosity of the oil. The aqueous alkali solution mixes with the oil in the oil bearing formation and forms a surfactant that reduces the interfacial tension between the oil and water. The hydrogen may be used to react with the oil at these elevated temperatures to form lighter molecules, thus upgrading to a certain extent the oil in situ. As a result, the oil can flow more efficiently and easily through the oil bearing formation towards and into one or more production wells.
Robertson; Eric P. (Idaho Falls, ID)
The United States of America as represented by the United States Department of Energy (Washington, DC), N/A (
12/ 432,793
April 30, 2009
GOVERNMENT INTERESTS The United States Government has rights to this invention pursuant to Contract No. DE-AC07-05ID14517, between the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Battelle Energy Alliance.