Carbon dioxide thickening: A review of technological aspects, advances and challenges for oilfield application

Nilanjan Pal, Xuan Zhang, Muhammad Ali, Ajay Mandal, Hussein Hoteit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The relatively low density and viscosity of carbon dioxide (CO2) in supercritical state create several drawbacks, including gravity override, viscous fingering, water production/treatment problems, and poor proppant transport for the petroleum industry. The introduction of CO2 thickeners offers a promising additive technology with sufficient solubility and viscosity enhancement attributes. The current article reviews the technical advances, challenges, and applicability of thickened CO2, particularly for hydrocarbon recovery. Different types of thickeners, including polymers, tailor-made surfactants, and small associating compounds, were investigated in terms of their nature, physicochemical traits, cost, and applications. The molecular weight and concentration, shear rate, co-solvent composition, temperature, and pressure play a significant role in the intermolecular forces and miscibility effect of thickeners in the presence of dense CO2. Binary co-polymers (non-fluorinated non-siloxane materials) and small molecule (associating) compounds are promising options for CO2 thickening owing to their enhanced performance, cost-effectiveness, and low ecological footprint. This study provides a comprehensive review of existing technologies, outline the gaps, potential, and required area for improvement.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122947
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-01-18
Acknowledgements: The authors acknowledge the encouragement and technical expertise provided by the Physical Science and Engineering Division. The contribution recognizes the support of Saudi Aramco (Grant OSR: 44436) to King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, Saudi Arabia and Department of Science & Technology, SERB, India (Grant ID: CRG/2020/000828) to Indian Institute of Technology (ISM) Dhanbad, India for the article.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology


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