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Self-adaptive preferential flow control using displacing fluid with dispersed polymers in heterogeneous porous media

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 November 2020

Chiyu Xie
Affiliation:
Department of Engineering Mechanics, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, PR China Center for Subsurface Energy and the Environment, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
Wenhai Lei
Affiliation:
Department of Engineering Mechanics, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, PR China
Matthew T. Balhoff
Affiliation:
Center for Subsurface Energy and the Environment, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA Hildebrand Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA
Moran Wang
Affiliation:
Department of Engineering Mechanics, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, PR China
Shiyi Chen
Affiliation:
Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen 518055, PR China State Laboratory of Turbulence and Complex System, Peking University, Beijing 100871, PR China
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Preferential flow that leads to non-uniform displacement, especially in heterogeneous porous media, is usually unwelcome in most practical processes. We propose a self-adaptive preferential flow control mechanism by using dispersed polymers, which is supported strongly by experimental and numerical evidence. Our experiments are performed on a microchip with heterogeneous porous structures where oil is displaced by dispersed polymer microsphere particles. Even though the size of the particles is much smaller than the pore-throat size, the diversion effect by the dispersed microspheres is still proved. Therefore, the plugging effect is not the major mechanism for preferential flow control by dispersed polymers. The mechanisms are further investigated by pore-scale modelling, which indicates that the dispersed polymers exhibit an adaption ability to pressure and resistance in the porous flow field. In such an intelligent way, the displacing fluid with dispersed polymers smartly controls the preferential flow by inducing pressure fluctuations, and demonstrates better performance in both efficiency and economic aspects than the traditional method by simply increasing the viscosity. These insights can be applied to improve techniques in the field, such as enhanced oil recovery and soil wetting.

Type
JFM Papers
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Xie et al. supplementary movie 1

Movie 1 is the dynamic video of FIG.2 (a): DI water flooding in the microfluidic chip.
Image 21 MB

Xie et al. supplementary movie 2

Movie 2 is the dynamic video of FIG.2 (b): dispersed polymer flooding in the microfluidic chip.

Image 31 MB

Xie et al. supplementary movie 3

Movie 3 is the dynamic video of FIG.4 (a): continuous water flooding processes.
Image 11 MB

Xie et al. supplementary movie 4

Movie 4 is the dynamic video of FIG.4 (b): continuous polymer flooding processes.
Image 11 MB

Xie et al. supplementary movie 5

Movie 5 is the dynamic video of FIG.4 (c): dispersed polymer flooding processes.
Image 14 MB

Xie et al. supplementary movie 6

Movie 6 is the dynamic video of FIG.5 (a): the pressure distribution evolution during continuous water flooding.
Image 7 MB

Xie et al. supplementary movie 7

Movie 7 is the dynamic video of FIG.5 (b): the pressure distribution evolution during continuous polymer flooding.
Image 8 MB

Xie et al. supplementary movie 8

Movie 8 is the dynamic video of FIG.5 (c): the pressure distribution evolution during dispersed polymer flooding.

Image 8 MB

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