Imperial College London

ProfessorMartinBlunt

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Chair in Flow in Porous Media
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 6500m.blunt Website

 
 
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Location

 

2.38ARoyal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
to

496 results found

Ladipo L, Blunt MJ, King PR, 2022, Crossflow effects on low salinity displacement in stratified heterogeneity, Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, Vol: 208, Pages: 1-26, ISSN: 0920-4105

Crossflow is a major factor affecting recovery efficiency in heterogeneous permeable media. In typical water-oil displacements, viscous-dominated crossflow improves oil recovery efficiency relative to no-crossflow depending on the shock-front and/or the mobility ratio across the displacement front. Its impact is not yet fully understood for augmented or engineered waterfloods such as controlled/low salinity waterflooding (LSWF). This is critical in such a flood with two distinct displacement shock-fronts – unlike a standard waterflood – that are potentially influenced by mixing of the brines which further complicates the crossflow behaviour. This paper presents a comprehensive treatment of crossflow effects on recovery or displacement efficiency along stratified media of contrasting properties during LSWF considering physical dispersion.We define dimensionless numbers to characterize no-crossflow, viscous- and gravity-dominated crossflow regimes for different mobility-ratios. In two-dimensional numerical simulations, we explore the influence of property contrasts and mobility-ratios across the two distinct shock-fronts on the viscous crossflow behaviour in a LSWF. The sensitivity of viscous crossflow recovery and (low-salinity) engineered-water sweep efficiency to mobility-ratios is evaluated at different performance times relative to no-crossflow displacement.Viscous crossflow (VC) is found to be relevant in water-oil displacements for permeability contrasts less than or equal to 1000, but less important for EOR low-salinity displacement once the permeability contrast exceeds 50. For the mobility-ratio cases considered, VC is unidirectional – from the fast to slow layer – only when the mobility-ratios across the two distinct shock-fronts are both favourable. Unlike a typical water-oil displacement, the weak dependency of late-time recovery efficiency on VC is observed to be a function of the mobility-ratio and dispersion in LSWF. An unfavour

Journal article

Shams R, Masihi M, Boozarjomehry RB, Blunt MJet al., 2021, A hybrid of statistical and conditional generative adversarial neural network approaches for reconstruction of 3D porous media (ST-CGAN), ADVANCES IN WATER RESOURCES, Vol: 158, ISSN: 0309-1708

Journal article

Alhosani A, Selem AM, Lin Q, Bijeljic B, Blunt MJet al., 2021, Disconnected Gas Transport in Steady‐State Three‐Phase Flow, Water Resources Research, ISSN: 0043-1397

Journal article

Karvounis P, Blunt MJ, 2021, Assessment of CO2 geological storage capacity of saline aquifers under the North Sea, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF GREENHOUSE GAS CONTROL, Vol: 111, ISSN: 1750-5836

Journal article

Yang Y, Zhou Y, Blunt MJ, Yao J, Cai Jet al., 2021, Advances in multiscale numerical and experimental approaches for multiphysics problems in porous media, Advances in Geo-Energy Research, Vol: 5, Pages: 233-238, ISSN: 2207-9963

Research on the scientific and engineering problems of porous media has drawn increasing attention in recent years. Digital core analysis technology has been rapidly developed in many fields, such as hydrocarbon exploration and development, hydrology, medicine, materials and subsurface geofluids. In summary, science and engineering research in porous media is a complex problem involving multiple fields. In order to encourage communication and collaboration in porous media research using digital core technology in different industries, the 5th International Conference on Digital Core Analysis & the Workshop on Multiscale Numerical and Experimental Approaches for Multiphysics Problems in Porous Media was held in Qingdao from April 18 to 20, 2021. The workshop was jointly organized by the China InterPore Chapter, the Research Center of Multiphase Flow in Porous Media at the China University of Petroleum (East China) and the University of Aberdeen with financial support from the National Sciences Foundation of China and the British Council. Due to the current pandemic, a hybrid meeting was held (participants in China met in Qingdao, while other participants joined the meeting online), attracting more than 150 participants from around the world, and the latest multi-scale simulation and experimental methods to study multi-field coupling problems in complex porous media were presented.

Journal article

Mularczyk A, Lin Q, Niblett D, Vasile A, Blunt MJ, Niasar V, Marone F, Schmidt TJ, Büchi FN, Eller Jet al., 2021, Operando liquid pressure determination in polymer electrolyte fuel cells., ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Vol: 13, Pages: 34003-34011, ISSN: 1944-8244

Extending the operating range of fuel cells to higher current densities is limited by the ability of the cell to remove the water produced by the electrochemical reaction, avoiding flooding of the gas diffusion layers. It is therefore of great interest to understand the complex and dynamic mechanisms of water cluster formation in an operando fuel cell setting as this can elucidate necessary changes to the gas diffusion layer properties with the goal of minimizing the number, size, and instability of the water clusters formed. In this study, we investigate the cluster formation process using X-ray tomographic microscopy at 1 Hz frequency combined with interfacial curvature analysis and volume-of-fluid simulations to assess the pressure evolution in the water phase. This made it possible to observe the increase in capillary pressure when the advancing water front had to overcome a throat between two neighboring pores and the nuanced interactions of volume and pressure evolution during the droplet formation and its feeding path instability. A 2 kPa higher breakthrough pressure compared to static ex situ capillary pressure versus saturation evaluations was observed, which suggests a rethinking of the dynamic liquid water invasion process in polymer electrolyte fuel cell gas diffusion layers.

Journal article

Lin Q, Bijeljic B, Raeini AQ, Rieke H, Blunt MJet al., 2021, Drainage capillary pressure distribution and fluid displacement in a heterogeneous laminated sandstone, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 48, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 0094-8276

We applied three-dimensional X-ray microtomography to image a capillary drainage process (0–1,000 kPa) in a cm-scale heterogeneous laminated sandstone containing three distinct regions with different pore sizes to study the capillary pressure. We used differential imaging to distinguish solid, macropore, and five levels of subresolution pore phases associated with each region. The brine saturation distribution was computed based on average CT values. The nonwetting phase displaced the wetting phase in order of pore size and connectivity. The drainage capillary pressure in the highly heterogeneous rock was dependent on the capillary pressures in the individual regions as well as distance to the boundary between regions. The complex capillary pressure distribution has important implications for accurate water saturation estimation, gas and/or oil migration and the capillary rise of water in heterogeneous aquifers.

Journal article

Selem AM, Agenet N, Gao Y, Raeini AQ, Blunt MJ, Bijeljic Bet al., 2021, Pore-scale imaging and analysis of low salinity waterflooding in a heterogeneous carbonate rock at reservoir conditions, Scientific Reports, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 2045-2322

X-ray micro-tomography combined with a high-pressure high-temperature flow apparatus and advanced image analysis techniques were used to image and study fluid distribution, wetting states and oil recovery during low salinity waterflooding (LSW) in a complex carbonate rock at subsurface conditions. The sample, aged with crude oil, was flooded with low salinity brine with a series of increasing flow rates, eventually recovering 85% of the oil initially in place in the resolved porosity. The pore and throat occupancy analysis revealed a change in fluid distribution in the pore space for different injection rates. Low salinity brine initially invaded large pores, consistent with displacement in an oil-wet rock. However, as more brine was injected, a redistribution of fluids was observed; smaller pores and throats were invaded by brine and the displaced oil moved into larger pore elements. Furthermore, in situ contact angles and curvatures of oil–brine interfaces were measured to characterize wettability changes within the pore space and calculate capillary pressure. Contact angles, mean curvatures and capillary pressures all showed a shift from weakly oil-wet towards a mixed-wet state as more pore volumes of low salinity brine were injected into the sample. Overall, this study establishes a methodology to characterize and quantify wettability changes at the pore scale which appears to be the dominant mechanism for oil recovery by LSW.

Journal article

Shams M, Singh K, Bijeljic B, Blunt MJet al., 2021, Direct numerical simulation of pore-scale trapping events during capillary-dominated two-phase flow in porous media, Transport in Porous Media, Vol: 138, Pages: 443-458, ISSN: 0169-3913

This study focuses on direct numerical simulation of imbibition, displacement of the non-wetting phase by the wetting phase, through water-wet carbonate rocks. We simulate multiphase flow in a limestone and compare our results with high-resolution synchrotron X-ray images of displacement previously published in the literature by Singh et al. (Sci Rep 7:5192, 2017). We use the results to interpret the observed displacement events that cannot be described using conventional metrics such as pore-to-throat aspect ratio. We show that the complex geometry of porous media can dictate a curvature balance that prevents snap-off from happening in spite of favourable large aspect ratios. We also show that pinned fluid-fluid-solid contact lines can lead to snap-off of small ganglia on pore walls; we propose that this pinning is caused by sub-resolution roughness on scales of less than a micron. Our numerical results show that even in water-wet porous media, we need to allow pinned contacts in place to reproduce experimental results.

Journal article

Lin Q, Bijeljic B, Foroughi S, Berg S, Blunt MJet al., 2021, Pore-scale imaging of displacement patterns in an altered-wettability carbonate, Chemical Engineering Science, Vol: 235, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 0009-2509

High-resolution X-ray imaging combined with a steady-state flow experiment is used to demonstrate how pore-scale displacement affects macroscopic properties in an altered-wettability microporous carbonate, where porosity and fluid saturation can be directly obtained from the grey-scale micro-CT images. The resolvable macro pores are largely oil-wet with an average thermodynamic contact angle of 120°. The pore-by-pore analysis shows locally either oil or brine almost fully occupied the macro pores, with some oil displacement in the micro-porosity. We observed a typical oil-wet behaviour consistent with the contact angle measurement. The brine tended to occupy the larger macro pores, leading to a higher brine relative permeability, lower residual oil saturation, than under water-wet conditions and in a mixed-wet sandstone. The capillary pressure was negative and seven times larger in the carbonate than the sandstone, despite having a similar average pore size. These different displacement patterns are principally determined by the difference in wettability.

Journal article

Foroughi S, Bijeljic B, Blunt MJ, 2021, Pore-by-pore modelling, validation and prediction of waterflooding in oil-wet rocks using dynamic synchrotron data, Transport in Porous Media, Vol: 138, Pages: 285-308, ISSN: 0169-3913

We predict waterflood displacement on a pore-by-pore basis using pore network modelling. The pore structure is captured by a high-resolution image. We then use an energy balance applied to images of the displacement to assign an average contact angle, and then modify the local pore-scale contact angles in the model about this mean to match the observed displacement sequence. Two waterflooding experiments on oil-wet rocks are analysed where the displacement sequence was imaged using time-resolved synchrotron imaging. In both cases the capillary pressure in the model matches the experimentally obtained values derived from the measured interfacial curvature. We then predict relative permeability for the full saturation range. Using the optimised contact angles distributed randomly in space has little effect on the predicted capillary pressures and relative permeabilities, indicating that spatial correlation in wettability is not significant in these oil-wet samples. The calibrated model can be used to predict properties outside the range of conditions considered in the experiment.

Journal article

Alhosani A, Bijeljic B, Blunt MJ, 2021, Pore-scale imaging and analysis of wettability order, trapping and displacement in three-phase flow in porous media with various wettabilities, Transport in Porous Media, Vol: 140, Pages: 59-84, ISSN: 0169-3913

Three-phase flow in porous media is encountered in many applications including subsurface carbon dioxide storage, enhanced oil recovery, groundwater remediation and the design of microfluidic devices. However, the pore-scale physics that controls three-phase flow under capillary dominated conditions is still not fully understood. Recent advances in three-dimensional pore-scale imaging have provided new insights into three-phase flow. Based on these findings, this paper describes the key pore-scale processes that control flow and trapping in a three-phase system, namely wettability order, spreading and wetting layers, and double/multiple displacement events. We show that in a porous medium containing water, oil and gas, the behaviour is controlled by wettability, which can either be water-wet, weakly oil-wet or strongly oil-wet, and by gas–oil miscibility. We provide evidence that, for the same wettability state, the three-phase pore-scale events are different under near-miscible conditions—where the gas–oil interfacial tension is ≤ 1 mN/m—compared to immiscible conditions. In a water-wet system, at immiscible conditions, water is the most-wetting phase residing in the corners of the pore space, gas is the most non-wetting phase occupying the centres, while oil is the intermediate-wet phase spreading in layers sandwiched between water and gas. This fluid configuration allows for double capillary trapping, which can result in more gas trapping than for two-phase flow. At near-miscible conditions, oil and gas appear to become neutrally wetting to each other, preventing oil from spreading in layers; instead, gas and oil compete to occupy the centre of the larger pores, while water remains connected in wetting layers in the corners. This allows for the rapid production of oil since it is no longer confined to movement in thin layers. In a weakly oil-wet system, at immiscible conditions, the wettability order is oil–water–gas

Journal article

Hashemi L, Blunt M, Hajibeygi H, 2021, Pore-scale modelling and sensitivity analyses of hydrogen-brine multiphase flow in geological porous media, Scientific Reports, Vol: 11, ISSN: 2045-2322

Underground hydrogen storage (UHS) in initially brine-saturated deep porous rocks is a promising large-scale energy storage technology, due to hydrogen’s high specific energy capacity and the high volumetric capacity of aquifers. Appropriate selection of a feasible and safe storage site vitally depends on understanding hydrogen transport characteristics in the subsurface. Unfortunately there exist no robust experimental analyses in the literature to properly characterise this complex process. As such, in this work, we present a systematic pore-scale modelling study to quantify the crucial reservoir-scale functions of relative permeability and capillary pressure and their dependencies on fluid and reservoir rock conditions. To conduct a conclusive study, in the absence of sufficient experimental data, a rigorous sensitivity analysis has been performed to quantify the impacts of uncertain fluid and rock properties on these upscaled functions. The parameters are varied around a base-case, which is obtained through matching to the existing experimental study. Moreover, cyclic hysteretic multiphase flow is also studied, which is a relevant aspect for cyclic hydrogen-brine energy storage projects. The present study applies pore-scale analysis to predict the flow of hydrogen in storage formations, and to quantify the sensitivity to the micro-scale characteristics of contact angle (i.e., wettability) and porous rock structure.

Journal article

Wang YD, Blunt MJ, Armstrong RT, Mostaghimi Pet al., 2021, Deep learning in pore scale imaging and modeling, EARTH-SCIENCE REVIEWS, Vol: 215, ISSN: 0012-8252

Journal article

Spurin C, Bultreys T, Rücker M, Garfi G, Schlepütz CM, Novak V, Berg S, Blunt MJ, Krevor Set al., 2021, The development of intermittent multiphase fluid flow pathways through a porous rock, Advances in Water Resources, Vol: 150, Pages: 1-7, ISSN: 0309-1708

storage and natural gas production. However, due to experimental limitations, it has not been possible to identify why intermittency occurs at subsurface conditions and what the implications are for upscaled flow properties such as relative permeability. We address these questions with observations of nitrogen and brine flowing at steady-state through a carbonate rock. We overcome previous imaging limitations with high-speed (1s resolution), synchrotron-based X-ray micro-computed tomography combined with pressure measurements recorded while controlling fluid flux. We observe that intermittent fluid transport allows the non-wetting phase to flow through a more ramified network of pores, which would not be possible with connected pathway flow alone for the same flow rate. The volume of fluid intermittently fluctuating increases with capillary number, with the corresponding expansion of the flow network minimising the role of inertial forces in controlling flow even as the flow rate increases. Intermittent pathway flow sits energetically between laminar and turbulent through connected pathways. While a more ramified flow network favours lowered relative permeability, intermittency is more dissipative than laminar flow through connected pathways, and the relative permeability remains unchanged for low capillary numbers where the pore geometry controls the location of intermittency. However, as the capillary number increases further, the role of pore structure in controlling intermittency decreases which corresponds to an increase in relative permeability. These observations can serve as the basis of a model for the causal links between intermittent fluid flow, fluid distribution throughout the pore space, and the upscaled manifestation in relative permeability.

Journal article

Karlsson O, Rocklöv J, Lehoux AP, Bergquist J, Rutgersson A, Blunt MJ, Birnbaum LSet al., 2021, The human exposome and health in the Anthropocene, International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol: 50, Pages: 378-389, ISSN: 0300-5771

Journal article

Zhang Y, Bijeljic B, Gao Y, Lin Q, Blunt MJet al., 2021, Quantification of non‐linear multiphase flow in porous media, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 48, Pages: 1-7, ISSN: 0094-8276

We measure the pressure difference during two‐phase flow across a sandstone sample for a range of injection rates and fractional flows of water, the wetting phase, during an imbibition experiment. We quantify the onset of a transition from a linear relationship between flow rate and pressure gradient to a nonlinear power‐law dependence. We show that the transition from linear (Darcy) to nonlinear flow and the exponent in the power‐law is a function of fractional flow. We use energy balance to accurately predict the onset of intermittency for a range of fractional flows, fluid viscosities, and different rock types.

Journal article

Blunt MJ, 2021, Acknowledgement of Reviewers for 2020, Transport in Porous Media, Vol: 137, Pages: 283-286, ISSN: 0169-3913

Journal article

Oliveira R, Bijeljic B, Blunt MJ, Colbourne A, Sederman AJ, Mantle MD, Gladden LFet al., 2021, A continuous time random walk approach to predict dissolution in porous media based on validation of experimental NMR data, Advances in Water Resources, Vol: 149, Pages: 1-16, ISSN: 0309-1708

We develop a reactive transport model for dissolution of porous materials using a Continuous Time Random Walk (CTRW) formulation with first-order kinetics. Our model is validated with a dataset for a Ketton carbonate rock sample undergoing dissolution on injection of an acid, monitored using Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). The experimental data includes the 3D porosity distribution at the beginning and end of the experiment, 1D porosity profiles along the direction of flow during dissolution, as well as the molecular fluid displacement probability distributions (propagators). With the calibration of only a single parameter, we successfully predict the porosity changes and the propagators as a signature of flow heterogeneity evolution in the dissolution experiment.We also demonstrate that heterogeneity in the flow field leads to an effective reaction rate, limited by transport of reactants, that is almost three orders of magnitude lower than measured under batch reaction conditions. The effective reaction rate predicted by the model is in good agreement with the experimentally measured rate. Furthermore, as dissolution proceeds, the formation of channels in the rock focused the flow in a few fast-flowing regions. The predicted dissolution patterns are similar to those observed experimentally. This study establishes a workflow to calibrate and validate the CTRW reactive transport model with NMR experiments.

Journal article

Haghi AH, Chalaturnyk R, Blunt MJ, Hodder K, Geiger Set al., 2021, Poromechanical controls on spontaneous imbibition in earth materials, Scientific Reports, Vol: 11, ISSN: 2045-2322

Over the last century, the state of stress in the earth’s upper crust has undergone rapid changes because of human activities associated with fluid withdrawal and injection in subsurface formations. The stress dependency of multiphase flow mechanisms in earth materials is a substantial challenge to understand, quantify, and model for many applications in groundwater hydrology, applied geophysics, CO2 subsurface storage, and the wider geoenergy field (e.g., geothermal energy, hydrogen storage, hydrocarbon recovery). Here, we conduct core-scale experiments using N2/water phases to study primary drainage followed by spontaneous imbibition in a carbonate specimen under increasing isotropic effective stress and isothermal conditions. Using X-ray computed micro-tomography images of the unconfined specimen, we introduce a novel coupling approach to reconstruct pore-deformation and simulate multiphase flow inside the deformed pore-space followed by a semi-analytical calculation of spontaneous imbibition. We show that the irreducible water saturation increases while the normalized volume of spontaneously imbibed water into the specimen decreases (46–25%) in response to an increase in effective stress (0–30 MPa), leading to higher residual gas saturations. Furthermore, the imbibition rate decreases with effective stress, which is also predicted by a numerical model, due to a decrease in water relative permeability as the pore-space becomes more confined and tortuous. This fundamental study provides new insights into the physics of multiphase fluid transport, CO2 storage capacity, and recovery of subsurface resources incorporating the impact of poromechanics.

Journal article

Rezaeizadeh M, Hajiabadi SH, Aghaei H, Blunt MJet al., 2021, Pore-scale analysis of formation damage; A review of existing digital and analytical approaches, ADVANCES IN COLLOID AND INTERFACE SCIENCE, Vol: 288, ISSN: 0001-8686

Journal article

Purswani P, Johns RT, Karpyn ZT, Blunt Met al., 2021, Predictive Modeling of Relative Permeability Using a Generalized Equation of State, Publisher: SOC PETROLEUM ENG, Pages: 191-205, ISSN: 1086-055X

Conference paper

Alhosani A, Lin Q, Scanziani A, Andrews E, Zhang K, Bijeljic B, Blunt MJet al., 2021, Pore-scale characterization of carbon dioxide storage at immiscible and near-miscible conditions in altered-wettability reservoir rocks, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, Vol: 105, Pages: 1-15, ISSN: 1750-5836

Carbon dioxide storage combined with enhanced oil recovery (CCS-EOR) is an important approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We use pore-scale imaging to help understand CO2 storage and oil recovery during CCS-EOR at immiscible and near-miscible CO2 injection conditions. We study in situ immiscible CO2 flooding in an oil-wet reservoir rock at elevated temperature and pressure using X-ray micro-tomography. We observe the predicted, but hitherto unreported, three-phase wettability order in strongly oil-wet rocks, where water occupies the largest pores, oil the smallest, while CO2 occupies pores of intermediate size. We investigate the pore occupancy, existence of CO2 layers, recovery and CO2 trapping in the oil-wet rock at immiscible conditions and compare to the results obtained on the same rock type under slightly more weakly oil-wet near-miscible conditions, with the same wettability order. CO2 spreads in connected layers at near-miscible conditions, while it exists as disconnected ganglia in medium-sized pores at immiscible conditions. Hence, capillary trapping of CO2 by oil occurs at immiscible but not at near-miscible conditions. Moreover, capillary trapping of CO2 by water is not possible in both cases since CO2 is more wetting to the rock than water. The oil recovery by CO2 injection alone is reduced at immiscible conditions compared to near-miscible conditions, where low gas-oil capillary pressure improves microscopic displacement efficiency. Based on these results, to maximize the amount of oil recovered and CO2 stored at immiscible conditions, a water-alternating-gas injection strategy is suggested, while a strategy of continuous CO2 injection is recommended at near-miscible conditions.

Journal article

Blunt MJ, Alhosani A, Lin Q, Scanziani A, Bijeljic Bet al., 2021, Determination of contact angles for three-phase flow in porous media using an energy balance, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol: 582, Pages: 283-290, ISSN: 0021-9797

HYPOTHESIS: We define contact angles, θ, during displacement of three fluid phases in a porous medium using energy balance, extending previous work on two-phase flow. We test if this theory can be applied to quantify the three contact angles and wettability order in pore-scale images of three-phase displacement. THEORY: For three phases labelled 1, 2 and 3, and solid, s, using conservation of energy ignoring viscous dissipation (Δa1scosθ12-Δa12-ϕκ12ΔS1)σ12=(Δa3scosθ23+Δa23-ϕκ23ΔS3)σ23+Δa13σ13, where ϕ is the porosity, σ is the interfacial tension, a is the specific interfacial area, S is the saturation, and κ is the fluid-fluid interfacial curvature. Δ represents the change during a displacement. The third contact angle, θ13 can be found using the Bartell-Osterhof relationship. The energy balance is also extended to an arbitrary number of phases. FINDINGS: X-ray imaging of porous media and the fluids within them, at pore-scale resolution, allows the difference terms in the energy balance equation to be measured. This enables wettability, the contact angles, to be determined for complex displacements, to characterize the behaviour, and for input into pore-scale models. Two synchrotron imaging datasets are used to illustrate the approach, comparing the flow of oil, water and gas in a water-wet and an altered-wettability limestone rock sample. We show that in the water-wet case, as expected, water (phase 1) is the most wetting phase, oil (phase 2) is intermediate wet, while gas (phase 3) is most non-wetting with effective contact angles of θ12≈48° and θ13≈44°, while θ23=0 since oil is always present in spreading layers. In contrast, for the altered-wettability case, oil is most wetting, gas is intermediate-wet, while water is most non-wetting with contact angles of θ12=134°±~10°,θ13=119°&p

Journal article

Selem AM, Agenet N, Blunt MJ, Bijeljic Bet al., 2021, Pore-scale imaging of tertiary low salinity waterflooding in a heterogeneous carbonate rock at reservoir conditions

We investigated pore-scale oil displacement and rock wettability in tertiary low salinity waterflooding (LSW) in a heterogeneous carbonate sample using high-resolution three-dimensional imaging. This enabled the underlying mechanisms of the low salinity effect (LSE) to be observed and quantified in terms of changes in wettability and pore-scale fluid configuration, while also measuring the overall effect on recovery. The results were compared to the behavior under high salinity waterflooding (HSW). To achieve the wetting state found in oil reservoirs, an Estaillades limestone core sample was aged at 11 MPa and 80°C for threeweeks. The moderately oil-wet sample was then injected with high salinity brine (HSB) at a range of increasing flow rates, namely at 1, 2,4, 11, 22 and 42 µL/min with 10 pore volumes injected at each rate.Subsequently, low salinity brine (LSB) was injected following the same procedure. X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) was usedto visualize the fluid configuration in the pore space.A total of eight micro-CT images, with a resolution of 2.3 µm/voxel, wereacquired after both low salinity and high salinity floods.These high-resolution images were used to monitor fluid configuration in the porespace and obtain fluid saturations and occupancy maps. Wettabilitywascharacterized by measurements of in situ contactanglesand curvatures. The results show that the pore-scale mechanisms of improved recovery in LSW are consistent with the development of water micro-dropletswithin the oil and the expansion of thin water films between the oil and rock surface. Before waterflooding and during HSW, the measured contact angles were constant and above 110°, while the meancurvature and the capillary pressure values remained negative, suggesting that the HSB did not change the wettability state of the rock. However, with LSW the capillary pressure increased towards positive values as the wettability shifted towards a mixed-wet state. The flu

Conference paper

Blunt M, Kearney L, Alhosani A, Lin Q, Bijeljic Bet al., 2021, Wettability characterization from pore-scale images using topology and energy balance with implications for recovery and storage

We present two methods to measure contact angles inside porous media using high-resolution images. The direct determination of contact angle at the three-phase contact line is often ambiguous due to uncertainties with image segmentation. Instead, we propose two alternative approaches that provide an averaged assessment of wettability. The first uses fundamental principles in topology to relate the contact angle to the integral of the Gaussian curvature over the fluid-fluid meniscus. The advantage of this approach is that it replaces the uncertain determination of an angle at a point with a more accurate determination of an integral over a surface. However, in mixed-wet porous media, many interfaces are pinned with a hinging contact angle. For predictive pore-scale models, we need to determine the contact angle at which displacement occurs when the interfaces move. To address this problem we apply an energy balance, ignoring viscous dissipation, to estimate the contact angle from the meniscus curvature and changes in interfacial areas and saturation. We apply these methods to characterize wettability on pore-scale images of two- and three-phase flow. We also discuss the implications of the results for recovery and storage applications.

Conference paper

Gao Y, Raeini AQ, Blunt MJ, Bijeljic Bet al., 2021, Dynamic fluid configurations in steady-state two-phase flow in Bentheimer sandstone, Physical Review E, Vol: 103, ISSN: 2470-0045

Fast synchrotron tomography is used to study the impact of capillary number, Ca, on fluid configurations in steady-state two-phase flow in porous media. Brine and n-decane were co-injected at fixed fractional flow, fw=0.5, in a cylindrical Bentheimer sandstone sample for a range of capillary numbers 2.1×10−7≤Ca≤4.2×10−5, while monitoring the pressure differential. As we have demonstrated in Gao et al. [Phys. Rev. Fluids 5, 013801 (2020)], dependent on Ca, different flow regimes have been identified: at low Ca only fixed flow pathways exist, while after a certain threshold dynamic effects are observed resulting in intermittent fluctuations in fluid distribution which alter fluid connectivity. Additionally, the flow paths, for each capillary number, were imaged multiple times to quantify the less frequent changes in fluid occupancy, happening over timescales longer than the duration of our scans (40 s). In this paper we demonstrate how dynamic connectivity results from the interaction between oil ganglia populations. At low Ca connected pathways of ganglia are fixed with time-independent small, medium, and large ganglia populations. However, with an increase in Ca we see fluctuations in the size and numbers of the larger ganglia. With the onset of intermittency, fluctuations occur mainly in pores and throats of intermediate size. When Ca is further increased, we see rapid changes in occupancy in pores of all size. By combining observations on pressure fluctuations and flow regimes at various capillary numbers, we summarize a phase diagram over a range of capillary numbers for the wetting and nonwetting phases, Caw and Canw, respectively, to quantify the degree of intermittent flow. These different regimes are controlled by a competition between viscous forces on the flowing fluids and the capillary forces acting in the complex pore space. Furthermore, we plot the phase diagrams of the transition from Darcy flow to intermittent flow over a

Journal article

Lin Q, Akai T, Blunt MJ, Bijeljic B, Iwama H, Takabayashi K, Onaka Y, Yonebayashi Het al., 2021, Pore-scale imaging of asphaltene-induced pore clogging in carbonate rocks, Fuel, Vol: 283, ISSN: 0016-2361

We propose an experimental methodology to visualize asphaltene precipitation in the pore space of rocks and assess the reduction in permeability. We perform core flooding experiments integrated with X-ray microtomography (micro-CT). The simultaneous injection of pure heptane and crude oil containing asphaltene induces the precipitation of asphaltene in the pore space. The degree of precipitation is controlled by the measurement of differential pressure across the sample. After precipitation, doped heptane is injected to replace the fluid to enhance the contrast between precipitated asphaltene and doped heptane. The micro-CT images are segmented into three phases: void, precipitated asphaltene, and rock. In the experiment, we observed that the precipitated asphaltene which occupied 39.1% of the pore volume caused a 29-fold reduction in permeability. Furthermore, we analyze the spatial distribution of precipitated asphaltene which showed that the asphaltene tended to clog the larger pores. We also computed the flow field numerically on the images and obtained good agreement between simulated and measured permeability. The distribution of local velocity showed that after precipitation the flow was confined to narrow channels in the pore space. This method can be applied to any type of porous system with precipitation.

Journal article

Alhosani A, Scanziani A, Lin Q, Selem A, Pan Z, Blunt MJ, Bijeljic Bet al., 2020, Three-phase flow displacement dynamics and Haines jumps in a hydrophobic porous medium, Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, Vol: 476, ISSN: 1364-5021

We use synchrotron X-ray micro-tomography to investigate the displacement dynamics during three-phase—oil, water and gas—flow in a hydrophobic porous medium. We observe a distinct gas invasion pattern, where gas progresses through the pore space in the form of disconnected clusters mediated by double and multiple displacement events. Gas advances in a process we name three-phase Haines jumps, during which gas re-arranges its configuration in the pore space, retracting from some regions to enable the rapid filling of multiple pores. The gas retraction leads to a permanent disconnection of gas ganglia, which do not reconnect as gas injection proceeds. We observe, in situ, the direct displacement of oil and water by gas as well as gas–oil–water double displacement. The use of local in situ measurements and an energy balance approach to determine fluid–fluid contact angles alongside the quantification of capillary pressures and pore occupancy indicate that the wettability order is oil–gas–water from most to least wetting. Furthermore, quantifying the evolution of Minkowski functionals implied well-connected oil and water, while the gas connectivity decreased as gas was broken up into discrete clusters during injection. This work can be used to design CO2 storage, improved oil recovery and microfluidic devices.

Journal article

Spurin C, Bultreys T, Rucker M, Garfi G, Schleputz CM, Novak V, Berg S, Blunt MJ, Krevor Set al., 2020, Real-Time Imaging Reveals Distinct Pore-Scale Dynamics During Transient and Equilibrium Subsurface Multiphase Flow, WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH, Vol: 56, ISSN: 0043-1397

Journal article

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