Fabrication and transport of double emulsion microcapsules for applications in unconventional resources

Pratanu Roy, Stuart D.C. Walsh, Wyatt L. Du Frane, John J. Vericella, William L. Smith, Joshuah K. Stolaroff, Megan M. Smith, Eric B. Duoss, Christopher M. Spadaccini, William L. Bourcier, Susan Carroll, Jeffery J. Roberts, Roger D. Aines

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearch


Double-emulsion microfluidic techniques can produce small spherical capsules, hundreds of microns or less in diameter, capable of containing a wide variety of materials. By carefully selecting the outer shell material, microcapsules can be created that release their contents (i.e., are "triggered") under specific thermal or chemical conditions. As such, microcapsules provide an extremely versatile delivery mechanism for transporting target materials for tracer, proppant, or stimulation applications into natural and man-made fracture systems. Moreover, the capsules can be engineered to have densities above, below or even close to neutrally buoyant with the carrier fluid, thereby enabling their transport properties to be tailored for a given task. Design of microencapsulated particles for specific applications requires accurate models describing their subsurface transport. A principal application for such micro-encapsulated particles is as a substitute for, or as an additive to, traditional fracture proppant. However, the distances that even such traditional proppants are able to penetrate into natural rock systems is poorly understood, in part due to the uncertainties surrounding the methods used to model their transport. In this work, we present ongoing research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory into both the fabrication of double-emulsion microcapsules for energy applications, and the transport properties of these particles. We discuss different triggering mechanisms and materials for the capsules, and their potential applications. The transport behavior of the capsules close to the neutrally buoyant limit is also described, through experiments and numerical simulations to test settling rates and the role of particle-particle interactions on capsule transport in fractures.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSociety of Petroleum Engineers - Unconventional Resources Technology Conference, URTeC 2015
PublisherSociety of Petroleum Engineers
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781613994337
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventUnconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC 2015) - San Antonio, United States of America
Duration: 20 Jul 201522 Jul 2015


ConferenceUnconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC 2015)
Abbreviated titleURTeC 2015
CountryUnited States of America
CitySan Antonio

Cite this