|Abstract||Fines migration and transport in sand systems have huge influence on vital applications, including the storage and recovery of water and energy resources from the subsurface. Multi-phase flow of gas through saturated unconsolidated media takes place between the pores of sediments, physical phenomenon at the pore-scale control the flow properties. Given a sandy sediment media, gas permeability is highly affected by fine particles due to migration, clogging and bridging reducing gas flow or causing sand particles to displace creating fractures. There is a knowledge gap of fines effects on gas production from sandy sediments, especially at the pore-scale. Therefore, there is a need to model and quantify effects of fines in multi-phase flow using pore networks to better understand gas recovery systems.
Three-dimensional, synchrotron micro-computed tomography images of sand sediments were obtained at Argonne National Laboratory at a resolution of 3.89 micron per voxel. Kaolinite and Montmorillonite fine particles were added in varied concentrations in six soil specimens, each system was scanned at four stages with varied saturations of brine and CO2, resulting in 20 systems. Micro-computed tomography images were processed for 3D visualization, quantification and pore network modeling. Pore Network Models were generated, and relative permeability properties were then computed for each system.
Findings revealed that fines accumulate at sand-brine and brine-gas interfaces. As fines concentration increased, gas percolation decreased. Further increase in fines concentrations resulted in blocking local gas flow causing pressure variations enough to create fractures that allows gas to escape and permeability to increase back. Pore Networks and Computer-Based Two-Phase Flow Simulations can effectively be used to characterize flow in porous media. In unconsolidated media the pore space geometry will change due to sand grains movements. At high concentrations, different fines type produces altered gas flow regimes, Kaolinite resulted in fractures while montmorillonite resulted in detached gas ganglia. Generally, increasing fines reduces gas percolation and further injection of gas reduced permeability. The finds herein are critical in understanding the impact of fines migration during gas flow in sand, they can be applied to characterizing and predicting two phase properties of unconsolidated sediments.