Contact Angle Measurements Between Rocks or Minerals and Two Fluids at High Pressure and Temperature Using X-ray Imaging of Capillaries and Plates

Physical Sciences : Petroleum

Available for licensing


  • Meinhard Cardenas , University of Texas at Austin
  • Philip Bennett , University of Texas at Austin
  • Kuldeep Chaudhary , ConocoPhillips Company
  • Eric Guiltinan , University of Texas at Austin

Background/unmet need

Knowledge of the contact angle is necessary for characterizing, predicting and modeling multiphase flow in a solid-multi-fluid system such as in geologic porous media, which include petroleum reservoirs and aquifers. However, these underground environments may experience high temperatures and pressures since both of these parameters increase with depth. Measurements of contact angles under such ambient conditions are potentially not applicable to the deep subsurface. For example, previous techniques may be subject to the effects of buoyancy and gravitational forces. In order to improve the reliability of contact angle measurement results, a new technique must be implemented in which extreme temperatures, pressures, and viscosities of supercritical fluids do not interfere with contact angle measurement.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have proposed a method that allows for the conduction of contact angle measurements under ambient conditions typical of deep geological environments. Through this method, the contact angle defined by a solid-fluid pair interface can be measured while maintaining precision and experimental control that increase the reliability of results.

The invented technique ensures that capillary forces, whose balance controls the contact angle, dominate the fluid system to ultimately result in more valid measurements. The technique is particularly suitable for situations in which one fluid is supercritical, or characterized by low density and high viscosity. The technique utilizes X-ray imaging, which is a readily and increasingly available technology. Thus, there is no need to purchase expensive specialized equipment for the implementation of this novel technique.


  • Economically efficient due to ready availability of X-ray technology
  • Results in accurate measurements with high reproducibility
  • Precise experimental conditions (Bond number) achieved
  • Rapid technique that can be performed at progressively increasing/decreasing temperature and pressure


  • Utilizes X-ray technology to increase precision of contact angle measurements in ambient conditions typical of geological environments
  • Particularly applicable to the use of supercritical fluids for contact angle measurement
  • Allows capillary forces to maintain balance of the contact angle for improved measurements
  • Potentially resistant to buoyancy and gravitational forces

Market potential/applications

PR Newswire reports that the global reservoir analysis market is expected to grow to $22,432 million by 2019 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6%. In particular, North America, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific are the leaders in the reservoir analysis market and are expected to continue leading in the next five years. Market growth is driven by the increasing demand for energy, in which petroleum and gas companies seek to maximize their oil production through improved recovery in reservoirs. It is essential for the oil and gas industry to implement innovations that aid in reservoir analysis in order to perform efficient recovery methods and meet global energy demands.

IP Status

  • 1 PCT patent application filed