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Multiphase Flow through Porous Media Group

Multiphase flow through rock determines efficiency of hydrocarbon (oil or gas) recovery processes and carbon dioxide sequestration (CCS) schemes. Therefore multiphase flow behaviour is a key parameter in terms of assessing the economics and technical feasibility of oil production and CCS projects.

In the Department of Petroleum Engineering at Curtin University we study multiphase flow through sandstones, carbonates, tight gas sands and shales (which represent geological oil bearing formations or CCS storage sites) at the nanometre to metre scale in order to understand the physical, chemical and mechanical dynamical phenomena rigorously. We use a combination of experimental and computational methods for this.

Specifically we concentrate on three scales:

Standard core-flood scale (millimetre to metre scale)

Here core plugs with typical dimensions (38 mmm diameter, 50-300 mm length) are investigated.

Pore-scale (nanometre to millimetre scale)

At this scale it is possible to resolve the pore morphology of sandstones, carbonates, tight gas sands and shales. The pore morphology has a strong influence on multiphase flow parameters.

Molecular scale (picometre to nanometre scale)

This resolution is required to observe interactions of individual molecules and molecular aggregates. Such interactions are especially relevant at interfaces (wettability, interface curvature and movement), but they also determine the properties of complex fluids (e.g. surfactant and polymer formulations, heavy oil). In addition for complex materials such as coal or shale molecular mechanisms are thought to be significant factors in terms of hydrocarbon production or CO2 storage efficiency.