Bureau of Economic Geology

Researchers' Corner

Sahar Bakhshian

Sahar Bakhshian

Multiphase Flow Prediction in Heterogeneous Subsurface Formations

Multiphase flow in subsurface settings is the backbone of processes such as hydrocarbon recovery, geological storage of CO₂, nuclear waste disposal, and contaminant transport in aquifers. The existence of different length scales varying from pore-scale to reservoir-scale adds an element of complexity to the nature of the subsurface fluid flow. The non-uniform distribution of fluid phases due to the complexity and fine-scale heterogeneity of pore structures has a profound impact on fluid flow dynamics at large scales.

To better understand this complexity and help optimize the subsurface processes, we develop direct pore-scale numerical simulations of multiphase flow in three-dimensional real rock models. Our fluid flow modeling techniques, which leverage digital rock technology such as micro-tomographic imaging, provide detailed descriptions of multiphase flow and in situ fluid distributions in the microscopic structure of real rocks. Exploiting parallel computing algorithms and high- performance computing (HPC) platforms enable us to efficiently handle computationally intensive simulations on highly-resolved rock images.  We have extensively employed these techniques to the CO₂ geo-sequestration context to gain better insight into the multiphysics process of CO₂ migration and its corresponding trapping mechanisms, which have a considerable impact on the storage capacity of saline aquifers. Our efforts in this area can provide a robust tool for subsurface modeling, which is capable of accurate characterization of fluid migration in geological settings. 

For more information, please refer to our website at http://www.jsg.utexas.edu/sb.

Multiphase flow prediction using digital rock technology.

University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas

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