Visual Examinations of Fluid Behavior in Porous Media - Part I
- Alfred Chatenever (University of Oklahoma) | John C. Calhoun Jr. (Pennsylvania State College)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- June 1952
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 149 - 156
- 1952. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.3.2 Multiphase Flow, 5.3.1 Flow in Porous Media, 4.6 Natural Gas
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An exploratory study was made to examine the possibilities of a visual approach in investigations into microscopic mechanisms of fluid behavior in porous media. Appropriate apparatus and techniques were developed so that microscopic phenomena could he recorded on color movie film as well as be observed visually. The observation flow cells in which the fluid behavior studies were made were essentially single-layered matrices of spheres between plates, sometimes all-glass, sometimes all-Lucite and sometimes a combination of the two. The fluids were limited to water and a filtered crude oil.
Two flow regimes were observed during the flow of the immiscible liquids: channel flow and slug flow. In the former, transport was effected through stable networks of interconnecting channels; and in the latter, part of the movement took place in the form of slugs. Under certain conditions, flood-front patterns were found to be different depending upon which liquids were the displacing and displaced phases and not depending upon whether the matrix was water-wet glass or oil-wet Lucite. Residual formations of oil and water were observed and are described. Some of the ramifications and significance of the observed phenomena are discussed.
In recent years considerations of microscopic mechanisms of fluid flow in porous media have taken on greater significance. Much needs to be learned before the fundamentals of petroleum technology are completely established. For example, many unanswered questions exist in connection with relative permeability, displacement phenomena, residual fluid formations, flow structure, etc.; and further analytical mathematical formulations are seriously indicated. It is hoped that systematic investigations into the microscopic mechanisms connected with the behavior of fluids in porous media will shed some light on some of the problems extant.
Until recently microscopic mechanisms have been considered almost exclusively as speculative hypotheses. Within the past few years, however, the problem has been submitted to a limited number of experimental investigations. Nuss and Whiting made some studies on the pore-space geometry of sandstones and limestones by impregnating cores with an inert plastic and leaching the solid matrices to leave behind plastic models of the pore spaces. Schaefer traced pore spaces microscopically through lengths of limestone cores by cutting away thin sections from the exposed faces normal to the line of view.
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