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Title: Modeling of Propagation of Interacting Cracks Under Hydraulic Pressure Gradient

A robust and reliable numerical model for fracture initiation and propagation, which includes the interactions among propagating fractures and the coupling between deformation, fracturing and fluid flow in fracture apertures and in the permeable rock matrix, would be an important tool for developing a better understanding of fracturing behaviors of crystalline brittle rocks driven by thermal and (or) hydraulic pressure gradients. In this paper, we present a physics-based hydraulic fracturing simulator based on coupling a quasi-static discrete element model (DEM) for deformation and fracturing with conjugate lattice network flow model for fluid flow in both fractures and porous matrix. Fracturing is represented explicitly by removing broken bonds from the network to represent microcracks. Initiation of new microfractures and growth and coalescence of the microcracks leads to the formation of macroscopic fractures when external and/or internal loads are applied. The coupled DEM-network flow model reproduces realistic growth pattern of hydraulic fractures. In particular, simulation results of perforated horizontal wellbore clearly demonstrate that elastic interactions among multiple propagating fractures, fluid viscosity, strong coupling between fluid pressure fluctuations within fractures and fracturing, and lower length scale heterogeneities, collectively lead to complicated fracturing patterns.
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  1. Idaho National Laboratory
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Resource Relation:
Conference: World Geothermal Congress, Melbourne, 4/19/2015 - 4/24/2015
Research Org:
Idaho National Laboratory (INL), Idaho Falls, ID (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
Country of Publication:
United States
hydraulic fracturing; interacting cracks; modeling