Insights into the physical and chemical properties of a cement-polymer composite developed for geothermal wellbore applications

Kenton A. Rod, Manh Thuong Nguyen, Mohamed Elbakhshwan, Simerjeet Gills, Barbara Kutchko, Tamas Varga, Adriana M. Mckinney, Timothy J. Roosendaal, M. Ian Childers, Chonghang Zhao, Yu chen Karen Chen-Wiegart, Juergen Thieme, Phillip K. Koech, Wooyong Um, Jaehun Chun, Roger Rousseau, Vassiliki Alexandra Glezakou, Carlos A. Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


To isolate injection and production zones from overlying formations and aquifers during geothermal operations, cement is placed in the annulus between well casing and the formation. However, wellbore cement eventually undergoes fractures due to chemical and physical stress with the resulting time and cost intensive production shutdowns and repairs. To address this difficult problem, a polymer-cement (composite) with self-healing properties was recently developed by our group. Short-term thermal stability tests demonstrated the potential of this material for its application in geothermal environments. In this work, the authors unveil some of the physical and chemical properties of the cement composite in an attempt to better understand its performance as compared to standard cement in the absence of the polymer. Among the properties studied include material's elemental distribution, mineral composition, internal microstructure, and tensile elasticity. Polymer-cement composites have relatively larger, though not interconnected, levels of void spaces compared to conventional cement. Most of these void spaces are filled with polymer. The composites also seem to have higher levels of uncured cement grains as the polymer seems to act as a retarder in the curing process. The presence of homogeneously-distributed more flexible polymer in the cement brings about 60–70% higher tensile elasticity to the composite material, as confirmed experimentally and by density-functional calculations. The improved tensile elasticity suggests that the composite materials can outperform conventional cement under mechanical stress. In addition, calculations indicate that the bonding interactions between the cement and polymer remain stable over the range of strain studied. The results suggest that this novel polymer-cement formulation could represent an important alternative to conventional cement for application in high-temperature subsurface settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-287
Number of pages9
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Cement
  • Geothermal
  • Polymer
  • Self-healing
  • Wellbore

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)

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