Hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) was the traditional polymer and hydrophobically associative water-soluble polymer (HAWP) was the new polymer with three-dimensional network both used to flood to enhance oil recovery. The wellbore area was the most important part before the polymer solution injected into stratum. In this article, the shearing effects of the two polymers were studied by a wellbore simulation device. The viscosities of HPAM and HAWP solutions were both decreased around perforation of wellbore simulation device. Interestingly, viscosity of HAWP recovered from stratum 0.2 m. Until stratum 1.6 m, its viscosity recovered almost 50% of original. The data of intrinsic viscosity showed that the molecular chains of HAWP and HPAM were both degraded without any recovery. The contradiction was further studied by particle size and its microstructure. The mean particle size and particle size distribution data both showed HAWP recovered but HPAM was not. The microstructures of HAWP by atomic force microscopy images further explain the recovery of viscosity. The disassembled molecular chain was self-assembled into aggregate to newly network by hydrophobes with weaker linking than original solution. While the microstructure of HPAM was thoroughly split up to randomly coil without linking. In addition, the viscoelasticity of HAWP was also recovered to some extent but HPAM was not. All the results proved that HAWP has mobility control ability to displace oil in reservoir even if suffered severely shearing by wellbore. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J. Appl. Polym. Sci., 2013
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