Abstract The goal of this work is to develop a novel way of beneficially utilizing two main waste products from coal power-generation plants – carbon dioxide and fly ash – by generating fly ash nanoparticle-stabilized CO2 foam for CO2 EOR mobility control. First, as the grain size of fly ash is generally too large for injection into reservoirs, it was reduced to nano-size by the ball-milling process. Second, dispersion stability analysis was performed to evaluate a suitable dispersing agent for fly ash nanoparticles (FA-NP). A range of surfactants (anionic, cationic, and non-ionic) was used in dilute concentrations. Surfactants were screened based on particle-hydrodynamic diameters and polydispersity index of the dispersion as measured by dynamic light scattering. Third, foam flow experiments were performed using combinations of FA-NP and various surfactants. Aqueous foam was created in-situ by coinjecting the FA-NP and/or surfactants with liquid CO2 through a sandpack at a fixed foam quality. Foam texture, as seen in the view-cell, was used to screen suitable surfactants that stabilized strong foams. Finally, the foam flow experiments were conducted in a Berea sandstone core. Pressure drop across the core was measured to estimate the achieved foam resistance factor and the apparent viscosity of the generated foam. Nano-milling and thermal treatment processes were able to yield thermally-treated fly ash (TTFA) nanoparticles with an average size of 180 nm. Dispersion stability analysis revealed that anionic and non-ionic surfactants are suitable in dispersing these nanoparticles. Foam texture visualization demonstrated that strong carbon dioxide-in-water foam/emulsion with fine texture can be generated using TTFA nanoparticles in porous media in conjunction with a non-ionic surfactant or an anionic surfactant in dilute concentrations. Foam flow experiments in a Berea core showed that TTFA nanoparticles even in low concentrations (0.4 wt%) can significantly improve the foam stability and foam resistance factor of an anionic surfactant (in the absence of oil). Antagonistic effects were observed in foam stability in Berea core by addition of TTFA nanoparticles to nonionic surfactants. This study has the potential of not only to minimize the surfactant usage for foam-based CO2 EOR mobility control, but also to sequester both CO2 and fly ash in subsurface formations.

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