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Патент USA US3044553

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Unite ttes ~atent 1 lice
1
3&44543
Patented July 17, 1962
2
and other objects of the invention will become apparent
3,044,543
from the following detailed description.
SUBTERRANEAN RECQVERY PRIMIESS
In accordance with the invention, there is passed to an
BY CQMB‘USTEUN
~
input well leading to the subterranean formation in which
Henry J. Ramey, In, Fullerton, Calif, assignor, by mesne
combustion has been effected for recovery of hydrocar
assignments, to Socony Mobil Gil (Ioinpany, 111e, New
bon materials therefrom, in addition to the combustion
York, N.Y., a corporation of New York
supporting gas, a material capable of‘irreversible reac
No Drawing. . Filed Oct. 25, 1956, Ser. No. 618,176
12 Claims. (Cl. 166—¢i)
tion upon passage through the ?ame front and being either
quantitatively identi?able in the gaseous products of com
This invention relates to the recovery of hydrocarbon 10 bustion or producing upon passage through the ?ame
materials from a subterranean formation and relates more
front a reaction product quantitatively identi?able in the
particularly to the recovery of such materials by the'
gaseous products of combustion and thereafter analysis
method involving combustion in place of a portion of
is made of gas issuing from an output well for the quantity
the hydrocarbons in the subterranean formation. In a
contained therein of the material or a reaction product
more restricted sense, the invention relates to obtaining 15 of the material.
'
information concerning the ?ame front in a subterranean
Hereinafter, the material capable of irreversible reac
formation during recovery of hydrocarbons by the com
bustion method.
It has been proposed to recover hydrocarbon mate
rials from a hydrocarbon-containing subterranean forma
he:
tion upon passage through the ?ame front and being
either quantitatively identi?able in the gaseous products of
combustion, or producing upon passage through the ?ame
front a reaction product quantitatively identi?able in the
tion by a method which involvesecombustion of a por
gaseous products of combustion, will be termed the “re
tion of the hydrocarbons within the formation. In this
active” material. Bypcapable of irreversible reaction is
method, combustion supporting gas is injected into the
meant capable of irreversible reaction under the condi
formation through an input well and combustion of hy
tions prevailing Within the subterranean formation.
drocarbon within the formation is initiated by suitable 25 In the subterranean formation, the reactive material
means. The formation is provided with a single output
will, upon passage through the ?ame front, enter into an
well, or is provided with a plurality of output wells.
irreversible reaction. The form of the material will, there
Output wells may be positioned irregularly or they may
fore, change upon passage through the ?ame front. By
be positioned equidistantly from each other or other
analysis of the gas issuing from an output well for the
wise on a circle or plurality of circles having the input
well as the center. As the ?ow of combustion support
quantity of the reactive material which was admixed
with the gas passed to the input well or the quantity of
ing gas to the formation is continued, a ?ame front
a reaction product of the material, the amount of the
migrates from the input well to the output well or
reactive material changed in form is determined. The
output wells. Combustion gases, oil, and distillation
amount of material changed in form will be dependent
and viscosity breaking products of the hydrocarbon mi 35 upon the amount passing through a ?ame front and, there?
grate in advance of the ?ame front to the output well or
fore, upon the amount of gas passing through the ?ame
output wells from which they are removed to be treated
front. From the amount, information concerning the
for recovery of the desired valuable hydrocarbon mate
?ame front is obtained.
_,
rial or other constituents. The heat of the ?uid migrating
In
the
practice.
of
the
invention,
the
reactive
material
in advance of the ?ame front strips the hydrocarbon-con 40 is admixed in known amount with the gas passed through
taining formation of water and the greater portion of the
the input well to the subterranean formation. This
hydrocarbon leaving behind a carbonaceous deposit. This
amount may be as desired. However, the amount should
carbonaceous deposit is essentially the fuel consumed
be such that if the same amount were contained in the
in the process and the ?ame front migrating from the 45 ef?uent gas from an output well leading from the sub
input well to the output well or wells is the zone of
combustion progressively moving through the carbona
ceous deposit.
In carrying out the combustion process, it is often
necessary or desirable to obtain informaiton concerning
the ?ame front in the subterranean formation. It is often
necessary or desirable to determine whether combustion
is continuing or whether combustion has completely
ceased within the formation. Further, it is often neces
sary or desirable to determine whether combustion has
terranean formation, quantitative determination thereof
would be possible. The gas issuing from the output well
leading from the formation is analyzed for the quantity
of the reactive material or a reaction product of the re
active material. By determination of the quantity of
either, the amount of reactive material changed in form is
determined. In determining whether a change or lack of
change occurs in the quantity of the reactive material in
the gas between the time it passes through the input Well
and the time it leaves the output well, consideration must
be given, of course, to the fact that passage of oxidizing
gas through the ?ame front may result in change of the
volume of gas by formation from the combustible mate
rial in the subterranean formation of combustion products.
For example, in passage of oxidizing gas through the
?ame front with oxidation of a para?in hydrocarbon,
two volumes of oxygen will produce one volume of
carbon dioxide and two volumes of water. Since the
water will condense in the cooler portions of the sub
ceased at particular places within the subterranean forma
tion and, if so, to determine where the discontinuities in
the ?ame front are located with respect to a position be
tween any particular output well and the input well.
It is an object of this invention to provide a method
for obtaining information concerning the ?ame front in a
subterranean formation wherein combustion has been
effected for the purpose of recovering hydrocarbon mate
rials. It is another object of this invention to determine
whether combustion is continuing within a subterranean 65 terranean formation, a reduction of one volume of oxy
formation wherein combustion has been effected. It is
gen in the gas will thereby have occurred as a result of
another object of this invention to determine with respect
formation of combustion products. Correction for
to a position between a particular output well and an
changes in the volume of gas as a result of the forma
input well the location of a .discontinuity in a ?ame front
tion of combustion products is readily made by those
Within a subterranean formation wherein combustion has 70 skilled in the art employing, if necessary or desired,
been effected. It is another object of this invention to
analysis of the effluent gas from the output well for com
control the migration of the ?ame front in a subterranean
bustion products of the combustible material in the sub-'
formation wherein combustion has been effected. These
terranean formation.
3,044,543 ‘
4
.
tion supporting gas, i.e., oxidizing gas, passed to the sub
It is also necessary, in determining whether a change
or lack of change in the quantity of reactive material
occurs in the gas between the time it passes through the
input well and the time it'leaves' the output well, to know
terranean formation to support combustion enter the input
well together. However, it is not essential that the reactive
material and the combustion supporting gas enter the in
put well together but the reactive material may be in ad
when a particular unit‘ or volume of gas, containing re
active material -at the time it passed through the input well,
arrives at an output well. This is‘readily ascertained by
admixinga tracer material with the gas passing through
the input well. This tracer material, which may be any
mixture With, upon entering the input well, another gas,
gas passed through the input well prior or subsequent’
capable of oxidizing the reactive material is formed. The
reactive material capable of oxidation may be in admix
ture with, upon entering the input well, an oxidizing medi
which need notbe an oxidizing ‘gas, passed to the forma»
tion for a particular purpose. If the gas is non-oxidizing,
the amount thereof should be such that, upon mixing with
of the known tracer materials, may be admixed with the 10 the gas present in the subterranean formation, a mixture
to admixture of the gas with the reactive material. Anal
. ysis of the ef?uent gas from the output Well can be made
for the tracer material and the time required for passage of
the gas through the subterranean formation from the
input well to the output Well is thereby determined. The
um employed particularly for the oxidation of the reac
tracer material may also be admixed with the gas passed >
hydrogen or in the form of an oxidizable compound con
taining hydrogen as an atom in the molecule. Oxidation
tive material.
‘
,
Hydrogen may be. employed in the form of molecular
through the input Well at the same time as the reactive
of hydrogen will result in the formation of water. This
material is admixed, and analysis of the ‘gas from the out
put well for the tracer material may be made when anal 20 water, however, will not accompany the gas after leav?
ing the ?ame front but will, rather, condense, unless
ysis is made for the quantity of the reactive material or a
formed su?iciently close to an output well, in cooler por
reaction product of the reactive material. Knowing the
t-ions of the subterranean'formation ahead of the ?ame
quantity of the reactive material'or reaction product of
front in the direction of an output well. The condensed
the reactive material in the e?luen-t gas ‘from the output
water will remain in the subterranean formation at the
well, comparison can be made with the quantity of the re
' point of condensation until the ?ame front advances to
active material in the gas passed to the input well. From
this point. At this time the'water will vaporize.
the comparison, the amount of reactive material and thus
the amount of gas passing through the ?ame front can be
determined.
'
The reactive material may be a material'capable of oxi
dation upon passage through the ?ame front. The reac
tive material may also be a material capable of combina
30 condensation until vaporized again.
reached by the ?ame front. Thus, where hydrogen is
employed, a ?ame front may be present between the input
tion with a material other than oxygen upon passage
Welland an output well and neither the hydrogen nor
material capable of other change as a result of passage
the product of the oxidationof the hydrogen, namely,
through the ?ame front. Additionally, the material may
the water, will arrive at the output well at the same time
as the gas. 'However, where the hydrogen does not arrive
at an output well at the same time as the gas with which
it was admixed upon passage through the input well,
be a radioactive material and may be a material capable
upon passage through the ?ame front of oxidation or com
bination with a material other than oxygen or other
a
V
This procedure can
be repeated until the water reaches the output well or is
condensed at a point in’ the subterranean formation never
through the ?ame front. The material, further, may be a
change.
This .
water may condense in the subterranean formation again
‘and remain in the subterranean formation at the point of
'
passage of the entire amount of gas through a ?ame front
Gas issuing from the output well leading from the sub
terranean formation will contain, if passage through a
?ame front has occurred, a lesser quantity of the reactive
material in the samev form than it contained upon passage
through the input well to the subterranean formation.
has occurred and the presence of a ?ame front across the
entire path of flow of gas between the input well and
the'output well is indicated. Arrival of the hydrogen at
the output well at the same time as the gas with which
Assuming that none of the reactive material arrives in'
the same form at an output well with the gas with which
it was admixed upon passage through the input well, pas
sage of the entire amount of gas through a ?ame front
has occurred. Accordingly, the presence of a flame front
Without a discontinuity is indicated within the subterrane 50
it was admixed upon passage through the input well,
either in diminished or undiminished quantity, has the
same signi?cance with respect to the ?ame front in the
subterranean formation as described hereina-bove in con
nection with the arrival in the same form of the reactive
material with the gas with which it was admixed upon
an formation across the entire path of flow of gas between -
passage through the input well.
the input well and the output well. ' Where the reactive
material arrives in the same form at an output well with
the gas withwhich it was admixed upon passage through
capable of oxidation, it is preferred to employ the hydro—
' Where hydrogen is employed as the reactive material
‘gen in the form of one of its heavy isotopes. The use
the input well and in undiminished quantity, passage of 55 of heavy hydrogen is particularly preferred where hydro
, none of the gas through a ?ame front has occurred.
gen may be formed as a product of combustion, and
differentiation in the gas from the output well between
Ac
cordingly, in, thiscase, the absence of a ?ame front is indi
hydrogen produced by combustion and the hydrogen
cated within the subterranean formation across the entire
admixed with the gas passed through the input well is
path of ?ow of the gas between the input well and’the ,
output well. In the event that the reactive material ar 60 di?icult or impossible. Where heavy hydrogen is em
ployed in admixture with protium, it is intended that the
ratio of the heavy hydrogen to protium will be higher
, rives in the same form at an output well with the gas with
which it was admixed upon passage through the input well,
but in diminished ‘quantity, passage of a portion of the gas
through a ?ame front has occurred. Thus, a discontinuity
in a ?ame front is indicated within the subterranean forma
tion across the path of the ?ow of gas between the input
well and the output 'well. The magnitude of the discon
than in hydrogen not treated to increase this ratio.
Heavy hydrogen may be employed in the form of molec
65
ular hydrogen, ‘the molecular hydrogen containing any
combination of the various isotopes, or in the form of an
oxidizable compound containing heavy hydrogen as an
atom in the'molecule. .Oxidizable compounds contain
tinuity is indicated by the extent to which the quantity of
ing heavy hydrogen as an atom in the molecule and suit
reactive material has, been diminished.
‘ '
A suitable reactive material capable of oxidation upon 70 able for use in the invention. include methane, ethane,
ethylene, and acetylene.
'
passage through, the ?ame front is hydrogen. Where hy
'
VWhere
deuterium
is
employed
‘as
the’
reactive material
drogen or other reaotivematerial capable ofoxidation is.
capable of oxidation, analysis of the gas from the output
employed, the reactive material must be in admixture with
oxygen in order to be oxidized. Admixture with oxygen '
well leading from the subterranean formation for the
will be effected where the reactive matena1and combus 75 quantity of deuterium may tbe‘made by any suitable
3,044,543
5
6
method. For example, analysis may be made employing
front extinguishes or decreasing the rate of ?ow of com
a mass spectrometer.
the quantity of deuterium may be determined whether in
the form of molecular hydrogen or a compound contain
bustion supporting medium to the point that combustion
is no longer supported. Elimination of discontinuities in
a ?ame front may be effected by increasing the rate of
ing the deuterium as an atom in the molecule.
?ow of combustion supporting medium.
Employing a mass spectrometer,
’
Various other reactive materials capable of oxidation
upon passage through the ?ame front may be employed
in the practice of the invention. Such materials include
hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane, ethylene, and
Change in the rate of ?ow of combustion supporting
medium may be effected by changing the concentration of
combustion supporting medium in the combustion sup
porting gas passed through the subterranean formation
acetylene. Other materials of this type that may be em 10 from the input well to the output well. Increase in the
ployed include carbon monoxide, carbon disul?de, and
concentration of combustion supporting medium in the
hydrogen sul?de. In the case of reactive materials con
combustion supporting gas can be effected by adding
taining carbon as an atom in the molecule, the carbon
combustion supporting medium to the gas and decrease
may be carbon having an atomic weight of 12 or may be
in the concentration of combustion supporting medium
carbon having an atomic weight of 14. This latter 15 in the combustion supporting gas can be effected by add
isotope of carbon is radioactive.
ing an inert diluent to the gas. Thus, where air ‘is the '
A suitable reactive material capable of’ combination
combustion supporting gas, increase in the concentration
upon passage through the ?ame front is heavy oxygen.
of combustion supporting medium is effected by adding
Either of the heavy isotopes of oxygen may be employed.
oxygen to the air and decrease in the concentration of _
‘The heavy oxygen is preferably employed in the form of 20 combustion supporting medium is effected by adding ?ue
molecular oxygen.
Combination of the oxygen upon
passage through the ?ame front may be with carbona
ceous material naturally present 'in the subterranean
formation. Combustion may also be with a compound
or material admixed with the gas passed to the subter
ranean formation through the input well at the time the
heavy oxygen is admixed with this gas. Such a material
gas, nitrogen, or other inert gas.
Change in the rate of flow of combustion supporting
medium may also be effected by changing the rate of flow
of combustion supporting gas through the subterranean
25 formation from the input well to the output well.
The
rate of ?ow of combustion supporting gas through the _
subterranean formation between the input well and an
may be a hydrocarbon. Analysis of the gas from an out
output well is proportional to the difference in the square
put well leading from the subterranean formation may
of the pressure at which the combustion supporting gas
be made for the quantity therein of heavy oxygen by any 30 is passed to the input well and the square of the pressure
suitable method. For example, analysis may be made
imposed upon the gas at the output well. This latter
employing a mass spectrometer.
pressure is known as the ‘back pressure. Thus, the rate
The reactive material may be passed continuously or
of ?ow of combustion supporting gas through the subter
alternately or for an isolated period of time to the sub
ranean formation can be changed by changing the pres
terranean formation through the input well. In this con 35 sure of the gas at either the input well or the output well.
nection, admixture of the reactive material with the gas
Change in the rate of flow can also be effected by chang
passed to the input well may be effected in a manner
ing the pressure at both the input well and the output well
to provide a square wave curve in a plot of the concen
provided that a change in the difference between the
tration of the reactive material in the gas with time. The
squares of thetwo pressures results. Increase in ?ow of
shape of the curve in a plot of the concentration of the 40 gas can be effected by increasing the difference in the
reactive material in the gas from an output well with
squares of the pressures at the two wells and decrease in
time is indicative of the distribution of the gas ?ow in the
the rate of ?ow of gas can be effected by decreasing the
subterranean formation and the presence or absence of
difference in the squares of the pressures at the two wells.
channeling. Where a plurality of output wells leads from
This application is a continuation-in-part of my 00
the subterranean formation, the shape .of the curve in a
application Serial No. 492,737, ?led March 7,
plot of the concentration of the reactive material in the 45 pending
1955.
gas from the wells with time where the plot of the con
Having thus described my invention, it will be under
centration of the reactive material with time at the input
well was a square wave curve, indicates the'shape and the
relative position of the ?ame front with respect to each
of the output wells. In similar manner, other informa
tion concerning the ?ame front may be determined.
Having determined the presence or absence of a ?ame
front, or a discontinuity in the ?ame front, in the path of
flow of gas between the input well and an output Well,
measures can be taken to control the migration of the
stood that such description has been given by way of
illustration and not by way of limitation, reference for
the latter purpose being had to the appended claims.
I claim:
-
1. In the process for the recovery of hydrocarbon ma
terial from a subterranean formation containing hydro
carbons and having an input well leading thereto and at
least one output well leading therefrom wherein combus
tion of hydrocarbon material within said subterranean
?ame front. E?icient operation might require, for ex
formation is initiated, combustion supporting gas contain
ample, that migration of the ?ame front be directed to
ing a combustion supporting medium is passed through
ward or away from a particular output well. Also, it
said subterranean formation through said input well in
might be desired in some instances to extinguish the ?ame
front in the path of ?ow of gas from the input well to a 60 the direction of an output well and as a result thereof a
?ame front preceded by combustion gas and hydrocarbon
particular output well. On the other hand, it might be
products recoverable from an output well migrate through
desired to eliminate any discontinuities which may be
said subterranean formation from said input well in the
present in the ?ame front in the path of ?ow of gas be
direction of said output well and gas issues from said sub
tween the input well and a particular output well.
Changes in the migration of the flame front may be 65 terranean [formation through said output well, the steps
comprising determining the time required for gas to pass
effected by changing the rate of ?ow of combustion sup
through said subterranean formation from said input well
porting medium in the subterranean formation. For ex
to said output well, passing into said subterranean forma
ample, migration of the ?ame front toward or away
tion through said input well in addition to said combus
from a particular output well can be effected by increas
ing or decreasing, respectively, the rate of ?ow of com 70 tion supporting gas in known amount with respect to
said combustion supporting gas a gaseous, oxidizable ma
bustion supporting medium in the subterranean forma
terial having as a constituent element thereof a heavy
tion. Extinguishment of a ?ame front in the path of
flow of gas through the formation between the input well
isotope of hydrogen in which gaseous, oxidizable material
and an output well can be effected by completely stopping
the ratio of said heavy isotope of hydrogen to protium is
the ?ow of combustion supporting medium until the ?ame 75 greater than in hydrogen not treated to increase this ratio
7
i
7
p
>
3,044,543
V
V
7
Y
i.
-
7-8
1
gas of said heavy isotope of hydrogen whereby the pres—
whereby said gaseous, oxidizable material in admixture
in known amount with said combustion supporting gas ad
ence of said heavy isotopejofrhydrogen in undiminished
amount with respect to said gas compared with the amount
vances through said subterranean formation from said in—
of said heavy isotope of:hy,drogen with respect to said
combustion supporting gas passed into said input well
put well in the direction of said output well, analyzing at
a time subsequent to passing said gaseous, oxidizable ma
indicates the absence of a ?ame front within said subter
terial into'said subterranean formation and equal to said
ranean formation across the entire path of flow of gas
time required for gas to pass through said subterranean
between said intput well and said’ output well, the presence
formation from said input well to said output well gas
of said heavy isotope of hydrogen in partially diminished
issuing from said output well for the amount with re
spect to said gas of said heavy isotope of hydrogen where 10 amount with respectpto said gas compared with the amount
of said heavy isotope of hydrogen with respect to said
by the presence of said heavy isotope of hydrogen in un
combustion supporting gas passed into said input well in
diminished amount with respect to said gas compared with
dicates lack of continuity in a flame front in said subter
'the amount of said heavy isotope of hydrogen with re
ranean formation across the path of ?ow of gas between
spect to said combustion supporting gas passed into said
said input well and said output well, and the absence of
input well indicates the absence of a ?ame front within
said heavy isotope of hydrogen from said gas indicates
said subterranean formation across the entire .path of'?ow
continuity in the presence of a ?ame front in said subter
of gas between said input well and said output well, the
presence of said heavy isotope of hydrogen in partially
ranean formation across the path of ?ow of gas between
spéct to said combustion supporting gas passed into said
through said subterranean formation between said input
well and said output well whereby change in the continuity
said input well and said output well, and thereafter chang
diminished amount with respect to said gas compared with
the amount of said heavy isotope of hydrogen with re 20 ing the rate of ?ow ofsaid combustion supporting medium
input well indicates lack of continuity in a ?ame front in
said subterranean formation across the path of ?ow of
gas between said input well and said output well, and the
of said ?ame front in said subterranean’ formation between
said input well and said output well is effected.
absence of said heavy isotope of hydrogen vfrom said gas 25 3. The process of claim 2 wherein said heavy isotope
of hydrogen is deuterium.
indicates continuity in a ?ame front in said subterranean
4. The process of claim 2 wherein said gaseous, oxi
formation across the path of ?ow of gas betweenrsaid in
put well and said output well, and thereafter'changing
the rate of ?ow of said combustion supporting medium
through said input well through said subterranean forma
dizable material having as a constituent element thereof
> a heavy isotope of hydrogen is heavy molecular hydrogen.
30
5. The process of claim 2 wherein said gaseous, oxi
tion in the direction of said'output well such that said rate
of ?ow maybe increased to eliminate discontinuity in the _
?ame front in said subterranean formation between said
input well and said output well in the even-tthe ?ame 35
front has any such discontinuity across the path of ?ow
of gas between said input well and said output well and
dizable material having as a constituent element thereof
a heavy isotope of hydrogen is a gaseous, oxidizable com
pound having said heavy isotope of hydrogen as an atom
in the molecule.
6. The process of claim 2 wherein said gaseous, oxi
dizable material having as a constituent element thereof
a heavy isotope of hydrogen is molecular deuterium.
said rate of ?ow may be decreased to create discontinuity
-7. The process of claim 2 wherein said gaseous, oxi
in the ?ame front in said subterranean formation between
said input well and said output well in the event the flame 40 dizable material having as a constituent element thereof
a heavy isotope of hydrogen is a gaseous, oxidizable com
front is present across the entire path of ?ow of gas be
tween said input well and said output well.
1 pound having deuterium as an atom in the molecule.
8. In the process for the recovery of hydrocarbon ma
2. In the process for the recovery of hydrocarbon ma
terial from a subterranean formation containing hydro—
terial from a subterranean formation containing hydro
carbons and having an input well leading thereto and at 45 carbons and having an input well leading thereto and at
least one output well leading therefrom wherein combus
least one output well leading therefrom wherein combus
tion of hydrocarbon material within said subterranean
tion of hydrocarbon material within said subterranean
formation is initiated, combustion supporting gas con
formation is initiated, combustion supporting gas contain—
ing a combustion supporting medium is passed through
taining a combustion supporting medium is passed through
said subterranean ‘formation through said input well in
said subterranean formation through said input well in the
the direction of ‘an output well and as a result thereof
direction of an output well and as a result thereof a ?ame
a ?ame front preceded by combustion gas and hydrocar
front preceded by combustion gas and hydrocarbon prod- V
bon products recoverable from an output well migrate
through said subterranean formation from said input well
ucts recoverable vfrom an output well migrate through said
subterranean formation from said input well in the direc
tion of said output well and-gas issues from said subter
ranean formation through said output well, the steps com
prising determining the time required for gas to pass
in the direction of said output Well and gas issues from
55
said subterranean formation through said output well, the
steps comprising passing through said subterranean for
mation through said input well in addition to said com
' ‘through said subterranean formation from said input well ‘7 bustion supporting gas a tracer material, analyzing gas is
to said output well, passing into said subterraneanjforma
suing from said output well for said tracer material where
tion through said input well in addition to said combustion 60 by the time required for gas to pass through said subter
supporting gas in known amount with respect to said com-q
ranean formation from said input well to said output well
bustion supporting gas a gaseous, oxidizable material hav
is determined, passing into said subterranean formation
ing as a constituent element thereof a heavy isotope of
through said input well in addition to said combustion sup
hydrogen in which gaseous, oxidizable material the ratio
porting gas in known amount with respect to said com
of said heavy isotope of hydrogen to protium is greater 65 bustion supporting gas a gaseous, oxidizable material hav
thanin hydrogen not treated’ to increase said ratio, where
by said ‘gaseous, oxidipzable material in admixture in known
amount with said combustion supporting gas advances
through said subterranean formationlfrom‘said input well
ing as a constituent element thereof a heavy isotope of
hydrogen in which gaseous, oxidizable material the ratio
of said heavy isotope of hydrogen to protium is great
er than in hydrogen not treated to increase this ratio
in the direction of said output well, analyzing at a time 70 whereby said gaseous, oxidizable material in admixture
subsequent to passing said gaseous, oxidizable material
‘in known amount with said combustion supporting gas ad
into said subterranean formation and equal to said time
vances through said subterranean formation from said in
required for gas to pass through said subterranean forma- ‘
put well in the direction of said output well, analyzing
at a time subsequent to passing said gaseous, oxidizable
from said output well ‘for the amount with respect to said 75 material into 'said subterranean formation and equal to
tion from said input well to‘said output well gas issuing
3,044,543
10
said time required for gas to pass through said subter
ranean formation from said input well to said oumut well
gas issuing from said output well for the amount with
respect to said gas of said heavy isotope of hydrogen
whereby the presence of said heavy isotope of hydrogen
put well, and thereafter changing the rate of ?ow of com
bustion supporting medium through said subterranean
formation between said input well and said output well
whereby change in the continuity of the ?ame front in said
subterranean formation between said input well and said
in undiminished amount with respect to said gas com
output well is effected.
'
pared with the amount of said heavy isotope of hydrogen
10. In the process for the recovery of hydrocarbon ma
with respect to said combustion supporting gas passed
terial from a subterranean formation containingv hydro
into said input well indicates the absence of a ?ame front
carbons and having an input well leading thereto and at
within said subterranean formation across the entire path 10 least one output well leading therefrom wherein combus
of ?ow of gas between said input well and said output
tion of hydrocarbon maten'al within said subterranean
well, the presence of said heavy isotope of hydrogen in
formation is initiated, combustion supporting gas con
partially diminished amount with respect to said gas com
taining a combustion supporting medium is passed through ~
pared with the amount of said heavy isotope of hydrogen
said subterranean formation through said input well in the
with respect to said combustion supporting gas passed 15 direction of an output well and as a result thereof a ?ame
into said input well indicates lack of continuity in a ?ame
front preceded by combustion gas and hydrocarbon prod
front in said subterranean formation across the path of
ucts recoverable from an output well migrate through said
?ow of gas between said input well and said output well,
subterranean formation from said input well in the direc
and the absence of said heavy isotope of hydrogen from
\tion of said output well and gas issues from said subter
said gas indicates continuity in a ?ame front in said sub 20 ranean formation through said output well, the steps com
terranean formation across the path of ?ow of gas be
prising determining the time required for said combus
tween said input well and said output well, and there
tion supporting gas to pass through said subterranean for
after changing the rate of ?ow of combustion support
mation from said input well to an output well, passing into
ing medium through said subterranean formation between
said subterranean formation through said input well in ad-_
said input well and said output well whereby change in 25 dition to said combustion supporting gas in known amount
the continuity of said ?ame front in said subterranean for
with respect to said combustion supporting gas a gaseous,
mation between said input well and said output well is
oxidizable material having as a constituent element thereof
effected.
a heavy isotope of hydrogen in which gaseous, oxidizable
9. In the process’ for the recovery of hydrocarbon ma
terial from a subterranean formation containing hydro 30 material the ratio of said heavy isotope of hydrogen to
protium is greater than in hydrogen not treated to increase
carbons and having an input well leading thereto and at
this ratio whereby said gaseous, oxidizable material in ad
least one output well leading therefrom wherein combus
mixture in-known amount with said combustion support
tion of hydrocarbon material within said subterranean
ing gas advances through said subterranean formation
formation is initiated, combustion supporting gas contain
ing a combustion supporting medium is passed through 35 from said input well in the direction of said output well,
analyzing at a time subsequent to passing said gaseous,
said subterranean formation through said input well in
oxidizable material into said subterranean formation and
the direction of an output Well and as a result thereof
equal to said time required for gas to pass through said
a ?ame front preceded by combustion gas and hydrocar
subterranean formation from said input well to said out
bon products recoverable from an output Well migrate
through said subterranean formation from said input well 40 put well gas issuing from said output well for the amount
with respect to said gas of said heavy isotope of hydro
in the direction of said output well and gas issues from
gen whereby information concerning the presence of said
said subterranean formation through said output well, the
?ame front in the path of gas flow between said input well
steps comprising passing through said subterranean forma
and said voutput well is obtained, and thereafter changing
tion through said input well in addition to said combus
the rate of flow of combustion supporting medium through
tion supporting gas in known amount with respect to
said combustion supporting gas a gaseous, oxidizable ma 45 said subterranean formation between said input well and
said output well whereby change of migration of said ?ame
terial having as a constituent element thereof a heavy iso
front in said subterranean formation is effected.
tope of hydrogen in which gaseous, oxidizable material
11. In the process for the recovery of hydrocarbon ma
the ratio of said heavy isotope of hydrogen to protium
terial from a subterranean formation containing hydro
is greater than in hydrogen not treated to increase this
ratio and simultaneously therewith -a tracer material 50 carbons ‘and having an input well leading thereto and at
least one output well leading therefrom wherein combus
whereby said gaseous, oxidizable material in known
tion of hydrocarbon material within said subterranean
amount with respect to said combustion supporting gas
and said tracer material advance through said subter
formation is initiated, combustion supporting gas con
ranean formation from said input well in the direction
taining a combustion supporting medium is passed through
of said output well, analyzing gas issuing from said out 55 said subterranean formation through said input well in
put well and containing said tracer material for the
the direction of an output well and as a result thereof a
amount with respect to said gas of said heavy. isotope of
?ame front preceded by combustion gas and hydrocarbon
hydrogen whereby the presence of said heavy isotope of
products recoverable from an output well migrate through
hydrogen in undiminished amount with respect to said
said subterranean formation from said input well in the
gas compared with the amount of said heavy isotope of 60 direction of said output well and gas issues from said sub
hydrogen with respect to said combustion supporting gas
terranean formation through said output well, the steps
passed into said input well indicates the absence of a
comprising determining the time required for gas to pass
?ame front within said subterranean formation across
through said subterranean formation from said input well
the entire path of ?ow of gas between said input well
to said output well, passing into said subterranean forma
and said output well, the presence of said heavy isotope 65 tion through said input well in addition to said combustion
of hydrogen in partially diminished amount with respect
supporting gas in known amount with respect to said com
to said gas compared with the amount of said heavy iso—
bustion supporting gas ‘a gaseous, oxidizable material hav
tope of hydrogen with respect to said combustion sup
ing as a constituent element thereof a heavy isotope of hy
porting gas passed into said input well indicates lack of
continuity in a ?ame front in said subterranean forma 70 drogen in which gaseous, oXidizable material the ratio of
said heavy isotope of hydrogen to protium is greater than
tion across the path of ?ow of gas between said input
in hydrogen not treated to increase this ratio, analyzing at
well and said output well, and the absence of said heavy
a time subsequent to passing said gaseous, oxidizable ma
isotope of hydrogen from said gas indicates continuity in a
?ame front in said subterranean formation across the
terial into said subterranean formation and equal itovsaid
path of flow of gas between said input well and said out
75 time required for gas to pass through said subterranean
3,044,643
,
iii
5
l
a
tion through said input well inaddition to said combustion
formation from said input well to said output well gas
issuing from said output well for the amount with respect
supporting ‘gas’ in known amount with respect to said
to said gas of said heavy isotope of hydrogen whereby the
presence of .said heavy isotope of hydrogen in undirnin
combustion supporting 'gas' a gaseous, oxidizable material
ished amount with respect to said gas compared with the
of hydrogenin which gaseous,‘ oxidizable material the
ratio of said heavy isotope of hydrogen to, protiurn is
having as a constituent element thereof a heavy'isotope
amount of said heavy isotope of hydrogen with respect to
said combustion supporting gas passed into said input well
indicates the absence of a ?ame'front within said subter
ranean formation, across the entire path of'?ow of gas be—
greater than in hydrogen not treated to increase this ratio
whereby said gaseous, oxidizable material in admixture in
' ' known amount with said combustion supporting gas ad
tween said input well and said output well, the presence of 10 vances through said subterranean formation from said
input well in the direction of said output well, and analyz
said heavy isotope of hydrogen in partially diminished
ing at a time subsequent to passing said gaseous, oxidizable
amount with respect to said gas compared with the amount
material into said subterranean formation and equal to
of said heavy isotope of hydrogen with respect to said
said time required for gas to pass through said subter
combustion supporting gas passed into said input well in
ranean formation from said input well to said output well
dicates lack of continuity in a ?ame front in said subter
ranean formation across ‘the path’ of flow of gas between
gas issuing from said output well for the amount with re
said input well and said output well, and the absence of,
said heavy isotope of hydrogen from said gas indicates
continuity in a ?ame front in said subterranean formation
speot to said gas of said heavy isotope of hydrogen where
by the presence ot~said heavy isotope of hydrogen in un
diminished amount with respect to said gas compared with
across the path of ?ow of gas between said input well and 0
said output well, and thereafter changing the rate of flow
to said combustion supporting gas passed into said input
of said combustion supporting medium through said input
the amount of said heavy isotope of hydrogen with respect
, well indicates the absence of a ?ame front within said sub
well through said subterranean formation in the direction
of said output well such that said rate of ?ow is increased
to eliminate discontinuity in the flame front in said'sub
terranean formation‘between said input well and said out
put well in the event the ?ame front has any such’ discon
tinui-ty across the path of ?ow of gas between said input
a well and said output well and said'rate of ?ow is decreased
to create discontinuity in the ?ame front in said subter
ranean formation between said input well and said output
well in the event the ?ame front is present across ‘the en- , I
tire path of ?ow of 7 gas between said input well ‘and said
output well.
,
a
7
V
a
r
,
12. In the process for the recovery of hydrocarbon ma
terial from a subterranean formation containing hydro
carbons and having an input well leading (thereto and at
least one output well leading therefrom wherein combus
terranean formation across the entire path of ?ow of gas
between said input well and said output well, the presence
of said heavy isotope of hydrogen in partially diminished
amount with respect to said gas compared with the amount
of heavy isotope of hydrogen with respect to said com
bustion supporting gas passed into said input well indicates
' the lack of continuity in a ?ame front in said subterranean
formation across the path of ?ow of gas between said in
put well and said output well, and the absence of said
heavy isotope of'hydrogen from said gas indicates continu
ity in a ?ame front in said subterranean formation across
the path of ?ow of gas between said input well and said
output well.
-
>
' References Cited in the file of this patent
UNITED STATES PATENTS
tion of hydrocarbon material ‘ within said subterranean 40 , 2,429,577
formation is initiated, combustion supporting gas ' con
‘2,584,606
7' Merriam _____________ __ Feb.v 5, 1952
2,642,943
Smith _______________ __ June 23, 1953
taining a combustion supporting medium is passed through
said subterranean’ formation through said input well in "
the direction of an output well and as a result thereof a
?ame front preceded by combustion gas and hydrocarbon 45
products recoverable from an output well migrate through
' said subterranean formation from said input well in the di- '
rection of said output well and gas issues from said sub
French __________ __'____ Oct. 21, 1947
2,734,579
Elkins ________ __.'_____ __ Feb. 14, 1956
2,800,183
Jenkins _. ____________ __ July 23, 1957
‘2,843,207
Clewell _____________ .__ July 15, 1958
‘
OTHER REFERENCES
'
,Glasstone: Sourcebook on Atomic Energy, pub. by D.
terranean formation through said output well, the steps _Van Nostrand, New York, N.Y., 1950, pp. 443, 444 and
‘comprising determining the time required for gas to pass 5 O 456 to 570.
V
V
through said subterranean formation from said input well
Laubengayer, A.: 1949 General Chemistry, Rinehart
to said output well, passing into said subterranean forma
and Co., Inc, page 486 relied on.
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