Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Engineering Science

First Advisor

John O'Haver

Second Advisor

Adam Smith

Third Advisor

Paul Scovazzo

Relational Format



Weighting agents like calcium carbonate (CC) are added to drilling mud to improve mud properties and performance during oil and gas drilling operations. Oil-based mud (OBM), a more preferred drilling mud, being hydrophobic is particularly non-compatible with hydrophilic CC. This work explored an economically viable admicellar polymerization technique to surface-modify the high energy hydrophilic CC surface to a low energy hydrophobic surface by polymerizing organic styrene monomer within an admicelle of nonionic surfactant Triton X-100 adsorbed on the CC surface. BET N2 particle size analysis, Soxhlet extraction of the coated polymer, Fourier transform infrared-attenuated total reflectance (FTIR-ATR) spectra analysis, and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) of the treated CC and polymer extract confirmed the production of a successful thin film polystyrene-coated CC. The coarse CC size grade had the most polymer. Consequently, OBM formulated with the treated CC is expected to; be more homogeneous, achieve higher wellbore pressure, remove drill cuttings better, have a more stable thin film low-permeability filter cake, and exhibit an enhanced overall performance. Pilot mud testing of a surface-modified CC formulated OBM is under way.


Chemical Engineering



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