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Yousef Hamedi Shokrlu

PhD (2014)

Current position: CMG

Research topic: Enhancement of the efficiency of the heavy oil/bitumen recovery techniques by application of metal nanoparticles


Conventional (steam injection) and unconventional (electrical/electromagnetic heating) heavy oil/bitumen recovery methods require a high amount of energy. The efficiency of these methods can be increased by improving the energy transfer to the oil for viscosity reduction. It has recently been shown that micron-sized metal particles improve the efficiency of some ex-situ processes such as coal liquefaction and pyrolysis, heavy oil upgrading, oil shale recovery, and heavy oil viscosity reduction. This idea, with some modifications, can be applied to reduce the energy input of the aforementioned recovery methods for more economical heavy oil/bitumen production. The major contribution of the metal particles is expected to improve viscosity reduction by reducing the amount of the required energy. The objective of this work is to clarify the mechanics of additional viscosity reduction using nano-size metals during thermal applications through a series of experiments. 

In the absence of electromagnetic fields, exothermic chemical reactions and thermal conductivity enhancement are believed to be the two important functions of metals to cause a reduction of oil viscosity. In the first phase of the research, two sets of experiments were conducted to investigate these mechanisms. Different metal types including iron, nickel and copper with different sizes and their different compounds were selected. The viscosity of oil samples, mixed with these particles, was measured. The tests were repeated at different temperatures. Also, the effect of the metal particles on heat transfer enhancement was examined. Nano-sized particles were found to have a remarkable effect on heat transfer through heavy oil. 

The conducted experiments provided a good understanding of the ongoing mechanisms that would lead to a viscosity reduction by the addition of metal particles. The concentration, type, and size of the particles were found to be highly critical on viscosity reduction. The optimal values of these parameters were identified. The results and observations are expected to be useful in further studies and applications as to the efficiency improvement of the thermal applications for heavy-oil/bitumen recovery. The following paper has been released from this part of the research. 

In the next step of the research, we will focus on application of metal nanoparticles to improve the efficiency of steam-based recovery methods. First, the chemical reactions occurring between particles, steam and oil phase at high temperature and pressure will be studied. Then, the technical aspects of this new technology will be investigated. Although, nanoparticles can improve the chemical and physical properties of heavy oil/bitumen, but from practical point of view, they may plug the formation. The stability of the nanoparticle emulsion, and injectivity of the nanofluid (nanoparticles+injecting phase) are the important aspects of technical application of metal nanoparticles. 


  1. Hamedi, Y., Maham, Y., Tan, X., Babadagli, T. and Gray, M.: “Enhancement of the Efficiency of In-Situ Combustion Technique for Heavy-Oil Recovery by Application of Nickel Ions,” Fuel, vol. 105, 397-407, 2012.
  2. Hamedi, Y. and Babadagli, T.: “In-situ Upgrading of Heavy Oil/Bitumen during Steam Injection using Nano Metal Particles: A Study on In-situ Catalysis and Catalyst Transportation,” SPE Res. Eval. and Eng., vol. 16, no. 3, 333-344, 2013.

  3. Hamedi, Y. and Babadagli, T.: “Kinetics of the In-Situ Upgrading of Heavy Oil/Bitumen by Nickel Nanoparticle Catalysts and Its Effect on Recovery Factor of the CSS Process,” SPE Res. Eval. and Eng., vol. 17, no 3, 333-344, 2014.

  4. Hamedi, Y. and Babadagli, T.: “Stabilization of Nanometal Catalyst and Their Interaction with Oleic Phase in Porous Media during Enhanced Oil Recovery,” Ind. & Eng. Chem. Res., vol. 53, no. 20,  8464-8475, 2014.

  5. Hamedi, Y. and Babadagli, T.: “Viscosity Reduction of Heavy Oil and Bitumen Using Nano and Micro Metal Particles under Aqueous and non-Aqueous Thermal Applications,” J. Petr. Sci. and Eng., vol. 119, 210-220, 2014.

  6. Hamedi, Y. and Babadagli, T.: “Pore Scale Investigation of Phase Distribution and Residual Oil Development during Secondary and Tertiary Solvent Injection,” SPE Res. Eval. and Eng., vol. 18, no 1, 39-52, 2015.

  7. Hamedi, Y. and Babadagli, T.: “Effects of Nano Size Metals on Viscosity Reduction of Heavy Oil/Bitumen During Thermal Applications,” SPE 137540, 2010 SPE Canadian Unconventional Resources and Int. Petr. Conf., Calgary, AB, Canada, 19-21 Oct. pp 10.

  8. Hamedi, Y. and Babadagli, T.: “Transportation and Interaction of Nano and Micro Size Metal Particles During Thermal Injection Applications for Heavy-Oil Recovery,” SPE 146661, 2011 SPE Annual Tech. Conf. and Exh., Denver, CO, 30 Oct. - 2 Nov., pp 12.

  9. Hamedi, Y., Maham, Y. and Babadagli, T.: “Thermal Analysis of the Catalysis of Low Temperature Oxidation of Heavy Oil by Nickel Additives,” 2013 1st Int. Chemistry and Chem. Eng. Conf., 18-21 April, Baku, Azerbaijan.

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