25. February 2013Media Releases
For the first time, experiments using computed tomography have allowed scientists to observe in 3D the flow of oil and water in real rock on an unprecedented scale. The new approach trailed and the information gathered by the experiments contribute to an improved understanding of multiphase flow and transport in porous media. The research was performed by a joint team of scientists from Shell, the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland and the Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany. The results have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Large volume, single pore gets filled via only a single pore throat. Top: starting sequence, bottom: next sequence after 16.8 seconds.
Sarah Irvine, the supporting scientist at the Paul Scherrer Institute, who helped develop the fast tomography technique and execute the experiment, said: “In the past, full CT scans at this spatial resolution would have taken 20 minutes or longer. Using X-rays from the SLS with our fast tomography setup, we can acquire individual projection images in a few milliseconds or less. Typically over a thousand of these acquired over 180° of rotation are combined to reconstruct a full 3D data set with a total scan time of just a few seconds, or even faster”.
Michael Kersten of the Institute of Geosciences at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, said: “This achievement is important to understand how a mixture of several fluids flows through pores of different sizes”. The Mainz researchers contributed primarily to the data analysis and visualisation. Thanks to their software skills and experience gained over a decade of CT work, Kersten’s group was able to reduce over 10 TB of high-resolution data down to minute-lasting movies of the key events. The results shed light onto characteristics of fluid-behaviour that up till now were only poorly understood. For the first time ever, the researchers were able to directly observe so-called Haines jumps, sudden changes in the way a fluid moves through porous media, in actual rock. The findings oppose the common paradigm that such changes are locally restricted to single pores. Instead, they cascade through dozens of pores simultaneously.
Steffen Berg, research institute member of Shell Global Solutions International B.V. at Rijswijk, The Netherlands, said: “This work has the potential to change how we look at the mechanisms in porous media and apply this improved understanding to solve some of the energy industry’s greatest challenges. The new quantitative data helps to build and validate computer models used to describe the flow of fluids in porous rock. It enables us to ultimately predict macroscopic behaviour and to optimise enhanced oil recovery techniques accordingly”.
Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland,
Phone: +41 56 310 5422; E-mail: email@example.com
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Kersten, Head Environmental Mineralogy
Institute for Geosciences, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
55128 Mainz, Germany Phone: +49 (0)6131-39-24366; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Steffen Berg, Shell Global Solutions International B.V.
2288 GS Rijswijk, Niederlande
Tel.: +31 70 447 6161, E-Mail: email@example.com
Steffen Berg, Holger Ott, Stephan A. Klapp, Alex Schwing, Rob Neiteler, Niels Brussee, Axel Makurat, Leon Leu, Frieder Enzmann, Jens-Oliver Schwarz, Michael Kersten, Sarah Irvine, and Marco Stampanoni
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Published online before print February 19, 2013, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1221373110