Confined Phase Behavior

Nano-condensation, also known as capillary condensation, is a phenomenon that occurs in tight and shale reservoirs which have pore diameters on the order of a few nanometers.

In such small pores, where the molecular size of the fluids becomes comparable to the size of the pore, intermolecular interactions between the fluid molecules and the pore wall become large and can alter the thermodynamics of the confined fluid compared to the same fluid in the bulk phase.  It is believed that strong attractions between the pore wall and the residing fluids cause these fluids to condense at lower pressures and temperatures inside the pores than they typically would outside of the porous media, giving rise to the term “capillary condensation.” This hypothesis has significant implications for natural gas production and carbon dioxide sequestration. It could drastically increase estimates of initial gas in place and could potentially increase estimations of carbon dioxide storage in tight rocks.

However, little experimental evidence is available to reinforce the theoretical physics behind this phenomenon and its subsequent quantitative effects on natural gas production and carbon dioxide storage.  In order to gain novel experimental evidence regarding the nature of this phenomenon, the COIFPM invented a state-of-the-art apparatus designed specifically to study capillary condensation in both synthetic nanopores and real reservoir rocks. This apparatus is capable of conducting experiments at the extreme temperatures and pressures necessary for both reservoir condition experiments as well as more fundamental studies aimed at understanding the underlying physics of capillary condensation.