Proppant is small material such as 40/70 or 100 mesh sand which is placed in hydraulic fractures of geothermal or hydrocarbon reservoirs. The main role of proppant is to keep open, or prop, newly formed fractures in rock mass for enhancing hydrocarbons or geothermal fluid flow during reservoir exploitation by keeping fractures open and resist formation stress. However, attempts of transporting proppant deep in rock fractures often fails which reduces production and efficiency of hydraulic fracturing jobs. Therefore, there is a need to better understand parameters which affect proppant flow and transport in fractures. This research uses micromechanics to understand interaction of fluid and particles on a single particle scale using experimental, theoretical and numerical methods. Resolved and unresolved Discrete Element Method coupled with computational fluid dynamics is used along with small and intermediate scale experiments to better understand influence of various parameters on slurry flow and transport in a fracture. Smooth and rough fracture walls are considered, as well as, different fracture apertures, particle concentrations, particle sizes and fracturing fluids. Results are focused on developing novel theories for describing dense-phase slurry flow and transport, with emphasis on particle agglomerations and clustering.
Speaker: Ingrid Tomac, UC San Diego
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Stanford, CA 94305
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