DOI: 10.3390/pr12030568 ISSN: 2227-9717

The Wetting Characteristics and Microscopic Wetting Mechanism of Coal under High-Pressure Nitrogen Environment

Piao Long, Bin Shi, Yunxing Cao, Yufei Qi, Xinyi Chen, Liuyang Li
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Bioengineering

The wettability of coal is an important factor influencing hydraulic stimulation. Field-trial data has proven that high-pressure N2 injection plays a positive role in increasing the coalbed methane (CBM) production rate. For the purpose of investigating the mechanism by which N2 promotes the gas rate, multiple experiments were conducted sequentially on the wettability of anthracite under different N2 pressures. Testing of the coal surface contact angle was conducted under 0.1–8 MPa nitrogen pressure using a newly built contact angle measuring device. The coal samples were collected from the Xinjing Coal Mine in the Qinshui Basin, China. The test results revealed that the contact angle increased with increasing N2 pressure. That is, the contact angle was 77.9° at an N2 pressure of 0.1 MPa and gradually increased to 101.4° at an infinite N2 pressure. In contrast, the capillary pressure decreased with an increasing N2 pressure, from 0.298 MPa to −0.281 MPa. The relationship between the contact angle and N2 pressure indicates a reversal of the wettability, at 5.26 MPa, with a contact angle of 90° and a capillary pressure of 0 MPa. The capillary pressure reversed to a negative value as the N2 pressure increased. At the microlevel, a high N2 pressure increases the surface roughness of coal, which improves the ability of the coal matrix to adsorb N2, forming the gas wall that hinders the intrusion of water into the pores of the coal matrix. The results of this study provide laboratory evidence that high-pressure N2 injection can prevent water contamination and reduce the capillary pressure, thus benefiting coalbed methane production.

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