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Our facilities

The Department of Petroleum Engineering is equipped with a number of facilities including: core flooding equipment, a unique True Triaxial Stress Cell, a reservoir wettability laboratory, and a micro-computed tomograph.

Core flooding laboratory

The Department of Petroleum Engineering is equipped with a unique Core flooding equipment which is used for advanced research studies as well as providing services to the industry. The system is capable of applying overburden pressures up to 13,000 psi and at a temperature of up to 250OC. A new unique core holder has been recently built which is equipped with sonic and resistivity transducers.

Some of the advanced experiments that can be carried out with the Core flood system are:

  • Overburden PHI and K (stress sensitivity)
  • Whole core analysis
  • Relative permeability
  • Formation Resistivity Factor
  • Capillary pressure
  • Acoustic wave velocity
  • Wettability
  • Compressibility
  • Geomechanical properties
  • NMR measurements
  • Thin section/SEM examinations
  • Core description
  • Formation damage tests
  • Proppant performance analysis
  • Ultrasonic testing of cores

True triaxial stress cell

Recently, the Department of Petroleum Engineering equipped its Geomechanics lab with a unique True Triaxial Stress Cell (TTSC) which is mainly used for advanced research studies in the field of Petroleum Geomechanics but could also offer commercial services to the industry.

External pressures and pore pressure ranges in the TTSC
Using the TTSC a cub-shaped rock sample with a maximum side of 30 cm in size is compressed using one vertical and two indepedent horizontal stresses up to 50 MPa (8000 psi). This is while the pore pressure is increased within the sample up to 21 MPa (3000 psi).

Hydraulic Fracturing using the TTSC
Using a small hole drilled in the centre of the sample, the fluid is injected under reservoir conditions into the sample to simulate hydraulic fracturing.

Increasing pore pressureindiste the isolated cell causes the fluid to travel towards the hole in the centre of the sample and allows sanding simulation for unconsolidated samples.

Fracturing and sanding events or rock instability around the wellbore can be monitored using a number of seismic transducers attached to the sample.

The vertical stress and both horizontal stresses applied to the sample, plus the fluid injection pressure and pore pressure are continuously recorded during the experiment and are transferred to ta PC to plot different diagrams.

The vertical and horizontal displacements are measured using LVDTs installed on each ram, the data of which can be transferred to the PC.

Reservoir wettability laboratory

Rock wettability is one of the fundamental parameters determining dynamic and static fluid behaviour in a reservoir. Wettability therefore directly impacts on hydrocarbon production and CO2 geo-sequestration (CCS) efficiency. In the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Curtin University we study this parameter using a combination of experimental and computational methods. For the experimental arm of our investigations we commissioned the reservoir wettability laboratory, which includes following facilities:

1. Core-flood apparatus (centimetre scale)

We have commissioned a core-flood apparatus, which was specifically designed for capillary pressure measurements at reservoir conditions. Our studies currently focus on CO2 behaviour, as the static behaviour of CO2 in rock at CCS conditions is not well understood. Here we investigate core plugs with typical dimensions (38mm diameter, 50-300mm length). Check our publication lists for results.

2. Contact angle and interfacial tension measurement apparatus

We have commissioned an apparatus with which we can measure interfacial tensions between reservoir fluids and contact angles such fluids form with a rock surface. These measurements are also conducted at reservoir conditions (i.e. high pressure, elevated temperature) to mimic true engineering conditions. It is important to match real conditions as that can have a profound impact on the physico-chemical behaviour of the fluid-fluid and fluid-fluid-rock systems as we have shown theoretically using a Molecular Dynamics approach.

3. A micro-computed tomograph (nanometre to centimetre scale)

The Micro CT scanner at Curtin’s Departments of Petroleum Engineering and Exploration Geophysics forms part of the National Geosequestration Laboratory (NGL), a research and development facility established to develop innovative solutions to minimise risk and uncertainty associated with the geological storage of carbon dioxide. The facility is a collaboration between Curtin, CSIRO and UWA, and build on the successes of the Western Australian Energy Research Alliance (WA:ERA). The NGL is funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, to the value of $48.4 million.

We investigate wettability characteristics of different rock-fluid-fluid systems by imaging their distribution in the pore space of the rock. The detailed configuration of the fluids is a function of the rock’s wettability and therefore a measure of wettability.

Micro-computed tomography laboratory

The Micro-computed tomograph at Curtin’s Departments of Petroleum Engineering and Exploration Geophysics forms part of the National Geosequestration Laboratory (NGL), a research and development facility established to develop innovative solutions to minimise risk and uncertainty associated with the geological storage of carbon dioxide. The facility is a collaboration between Curtin, CSIRO and UWA, and build on the successes of the Western Australian Energy Research Alliance (WA:ERA). The NGL is funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education, to the value of $48.4 million.

With the micro-computed tomograph we can acquire 3D x-ray mass attenuation maps of core plugs and fluids contained in the rock. These images have a high 3D resolution (up to (700nm)3). At such a high resolution the pore morphology of sandstones and carbonates can be imaged, and the distribution and behaviour of multiple fluids in the rock can be observed and quantified. Please refer to our publication lists for more details or contact us.