The diffusional processes that occur when oil contacts an aqueous surfactant solution have been investigated. These are pertinent to enhanced oil recovery by surfactant flooding and to detergency in certain systems. The theory of diffusion paths was used to solve the diffusion equations for a model pseudoternary system. Although detailed comparison with experimental results was not possible due to a lack of necessary data, calculated diffusion paths and interface velocities were found to be useful for explaining various phenomena observed experimentally in an oil recovery system.
Because the surfactant “solutions” studied commonly exist as dispersions of liquid crystal, extension of the theory to allow for initial compositions in two-phase regions was carried out. Also novel was investigation of the effect of the three-phase regions that occur in these systems on the position and shape of calculated diffusion paths.
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