Unstable Miscible Flow in Heterogeneous Systems
- R.L. Perrine (U. Of California, Los Angeles, Calif.) | G.M. Gay (U. Of California, Los Angeles, Calif.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- September 1966
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 228 - 238
- 1966. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.4.9 Miscible methods
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- 393 since 2007
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This paper describes a method of numerical computation for three-dimensional, unstable, miscible displacement behavior useful for heterogeneous systems, as well as for more ideal conditions. In the method, flow equations are first linearized by a perturbation approach. The basic flow process is separated and a solution for its behavior readily obtained. The remaining problem of deviations from the basic flow caused by non-ideal conditions is then subjected to numerical analysis. Results obtained from use of the method are also presented.
Although conditions assumed in the test calculations were severe, results show the type of dispersing flow expected and appear quite satisfactory. The method has eliminated or reduced in importance problems of oscillating values near steep fronts, excessive computer smoothing, etc. A unique advantage of the method is that the source of variations from ideal behavior can be observed. The one serious drawback results from the algebraic complexity of the perturbation approach, and the need for second-order terms to be retained in calculations of interest, Fewer array points are available and more computer time is required than would be desired. However, these difficulties are also experienced with other approaches to the solution of three-dimensional displacement problems.
Prediction of behavior of the miscible displacement process within a porous medium for any system of engineering importance is plagued by a number of difficulties. With typical fluid properties the displacing fluid has the lower viscosity, and there is a natural tendency toward flow instability. The problem of predicting instability is compounded by the fact that every real system is heterogeneous. Permeability will vary from point to point - not entirely systematically, and yet not in a random fashion leading to a readily defined average. Furthermore, permeability is unlikely to be isotropic. These permeability properties, which are characteristic of any real porous medium, accentuate the effects of flow instability.
Another factor to be considered is that flow dispersion accompanies the displacement process in a porous medium. Mechanistically, dispersion is due to the fact that flow between any two points in the medium follows multiple tortuous paths, each characterized by slightly different flow properties. The fact that the coefficient characterizing dispersive properties of the real medium is a tensor with variable elements complicates matters. Further difficulties arise because the parabolic influence, while not negligible, is small. Thus, there is a tendency toward steep and uneven displacement fronts along which dispersion smoothing must be represented accurately. Yet frequently used numerical analysis schemes may tend toward either instability, oscillation or excessive smoothing, none of which gives the desired accurate picture of flow behavior. Thus, while many experimental and analytical studies of the process have been made, predictions of actual performance are still subject to considerable uncertainty and possible improvement.
This paper reports on part of a study which attempts to develop improved methods for solution of the flow equations describing the miscible displacement process. Of necessity, the calculations were performed on a large digital computer. A three-dimensional system is represented, and the coefficients defining dispersion and permeability can be varied in a manner representative of a real system.
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