1. n. [Enhanced Oil Recovery]
An enhanced oil recovery technique using water viscosified with soluble polymers. Viscosity is increased until the mobility of the injectant is less than that of the oil phase in place, so the mobility ratio is less than unity. This condition maximizes oil-recovery sweep efficiency, creating a smooth flood front without viscous fingering. Polymer flooding is also applied to heterogeneous reservoirs; the viscous injectant flows along high-permeability layers, decreasing the flow rates within them and enhancing sweep of zones with lower permeabilities. The two polymers that are used most frequently in polymer flooding are partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide and xanthan.