Journal: Chemistry - A European Journal, e202303459, 2024
Tracer testing in reservoir formations is utilised to determine residual oil saturation as part of optimum hydrocarbon production. Here, we present a novel detection method of liquid organic compounds by monodisperse SiO2 nanoparticles (NPs) containing two luminophores, a EuIII:EDTA complex and a newly synthesised fluorophore based on the organic boron-dipyrromethene (BODIPY)-moiety. The particles exhibited stable EuIII PL emission intensity with a long lifetime in aqueous dispersion. The fluorescence of the BODIPY was also preserved in the aqueous environment. The ratiometric PL detection technique was demonstrated by using toluene and 1-octanol as model compounds of crude oil. The optimal synthesis conditions were found to give NPs with a diameter of ~100 nm, which is suitable for transport through porous oil reservoir structures. The cytotoxicity of the NPs was confirmed to be very low for human lung cell and fish cell lines. These findings demonstrate the potential of the NPs to replace the hazardous chemicals used to estimate the residual oil saturation. Moreover, the ratiometric PL detection technique is anticipated to be of benefit in other fields, such as biotechnology, medical diagnostics, and environmental monitoring, where a reliable and safe detection of a liquid organic phase is needed.