Particle-laden fluids: Fundamentals and engineering applications

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Liu, Qi
Santamarina, J. Carlos
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Particle-laden flows pervade oil/gas drilling and production, e.g. drilling fluids, fracturing fluids, fine migration in the reservoir formation, etc. Particle species include nanoparticle, clay mineral, and fines, with particle size spanning from nanometer to millimeter. And particles may interact with the porous media, other particles, and the liquid-liquid interface. Research tools adopted in this research include adsorption column, microfluidics, advanced analytical solutions and numerical simulations. Surface modified nanoparticles show strong affinity for the water-oil interface. The particle coated interface alters the capillary behavior and the immiscible displacement. Experimental results identify an asymmetric behavior of the particle-coated interface and indicate it is able to resist a substantial external pressure. The adsorption of nanoparticles put a major constrain for applications of nanoparticles which require long distance transport, e.g. ground water remediation and enhanced oil recovery. Adsorption column tests suggest that pH, ion type/concertation, and the mineral composition of the porous media influence the adsorption and transport of nanoparticles. Fine particles may plug pore constrictions and lead to permeability reduction due to small constriction-to-particle ratio. Transparent microfluidic chips allow us to observe the clogging development directly. Image analyses demonstrate that dependent clogging has a higher probability to occur comparing with independent clogging. Filter cake builds up on the surface when clogging extensively develops in the porous media, or when the suspended particles are large enough. A comprehensive mudcake growth model is advanced to evaluate the influences of time, pressure and environmental factors on the filtration behavior of drilling muds. Subsequent analyses explored critical drilling and completion issues that include mud shearing and differential pressure sticking. Rapid development of high-resolution magnetic sensors provides an opportunity to apply magnetic logging for the quality control of drilling and completion operations. Engineered magnetic mud serves as a tracer material. The multi-sensor torpedo conducts 3-D measurement of the magnetic field strength along the cased borehole. An efficient inverse algorithm solves the distribution of magnetic materials with high spatial resolution.
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