We investigated the interfacial tension (IFT) effect on fluid flow characteristics inside micro-scale, porous media by a highly efficient multi-phase lattice Boltzmann method using a graphics processing unit. IFT is one of the most important parameters for carbon capture and storage and enhanced oil recovery. Rock pores of Berea sandstone were reconstructed from micro-CT scanned images, and multi-phase flows were simulated for the digital rock model at extremely high resolution (3.2 μm). Under different IFT conditions, numerical analyses were carried out first to investigate the variation in relative permeability, and then to clarify evolution of the saturation distribution of injected fluid. We confirmed that the relative permeability decreases with increasing IFT due to growing capillary trapping intensity. It was also observed that with certain pressure gradient ΔP two crucial IFT values, σ1 and σ2, exist, creating three zones in which the displacement process has totally different characteristics. When σ1 < σ < σ2, the capillary fingering patterns are observed, while for σ < σ1 viscous fingering is dominant and most of the passable pore spaces were invaded. When σ > σ2 the invading fluid failed to break through. The pore-throat-size distribution estimated from these crucial IFT values (σ1and σ2) agrees with that derived from mercury porosimetry measurements of Berea sandstone. This study demonstrates that the proposed numerical method is an efficient tool for investigating hydrological properties from pore structures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Chemical Engineering(all)