Multiphase flow models for hydraulic fracturing technology

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    The technology of hydraulic fracturing of a hydrocarbon-bearing formation is based on pumping a fluid with particles into a well to create fractures in porous medium. After the end of pumping, the fractures filled with closely packed proppant particles create highly conductive channels for hydrocarbon flow from far-field reservoir to the well to surface. The design of the hydraulic fracturing treatment is carried out with a simulator. Those simulators are based on mathematical models, which need to be accurate and close to physical reality. The entire process of fracture placement and flowback/cleanup can be conventionally split into the following four stages: (i) quasi-steady state effectively single-phase suspension flow down the wellbore, (ii) particle transport in an open vertical fracture, (iii) displacement of fracturing fluid by hydrocarbons from the closed fracture filled with a random close pack of proppant particles, and, finally, (iv) highly transient gas-liquid flow in a well during cleanup. The stage (i) is relatively well described by the existing hydralics models, while the models for the other three stages of the process need revisiting and considerable improvement, which was the focus of the author's research presented in this review paper. For stage (ii), we consider the derivation of a multi-fluid model for suspension flow in a narrow vertical hydraulic fracture at moderate Re on the scale of fracture height and length and also the migration of particles across the flow on the scale of fracture width. At the stage of fracture cleanaup (iii), a novel multi-continua model for suspension filtration is developed. To provide closure relationships for permeability of proppant packings to be used in this model, a 3D direct numerical simulation of single phase flow is carried out using the lattice-Boltzmann method. For wellbore cleanup (iv), we present a combined 1D model for highly-transient gas-liquid flow based on the combination of multi-fluid and drift-flux approaches. The derivation of the drift-flux model from conservation olaws is criticall revisited in order to define the list of underlying assumptions and to mark the applicability margins of the model. All these fundamental problems share the same technological application (hydraulic fracturing) and the same method of research, namely, the multi-fluid approach to multiphase flow modeling and the consistent use of asymptotic methods. Multi-fluid models are then discussed in comparison with semi-empirical (often postulated) models widely used in the industry.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number012068
    JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2017
    EventAll-Russian Conference with International Participation on Modern Problems of Continuum Mechanics and Explosion Physics: Dedicated to the 60th Anniversary of Lavrentyev Institute of Hydrodynamics SB RAS, MPCMEP 2017 - Novosibirsk, Akademgorodok, Russian Federation
    Duration: 4 Sep 20178 Sep 2017


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