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Title: Beyond Darcy's law: The role of phase topology and ganglion dynamics for two-fluid flow

Relative permeability quantifies the ease at which immiscible phases flow through porous rock and is one of the most well known constitutive relationships for petroleum engineers. It however exhibits troubling dependencies on experimental conditions and is not a unique function of phase saturation as commonly accepted in industry practices. The problem lies in the multi-scale nature of the problem where underlying disequilibrium processes create anomalous macroscopic behavior. Here we show that relative permeability rate dependencies are explained by ganglion dynamic flow. We utilize fast X-ray micro-tomography and pore-scale simulations to identify unique flow regimes during the fractional flow of immiscible phases and quantify the contribution of ganglion flux to the overall flux of non-wetting phase. We anticipate our approach to be the starting point for the development of sophisticated multi-scale flow models that directly link pore-scale parameters to macro-scale behavior. Such models will have a major impact on how we recover hydrocarbons from the subsurface, store sequestered CO 2 in geological formations, and remove non-aqueous environmental hazards from the vadose zone.
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6]
  1. Univ. of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW (Australia). School of Petroleum Engineering
  2. Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ. (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, VA (United States). Advanced Research Computing
  3. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  4. Imperial College, London (United Kingdom)
  5. Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Halle (Germany)
  6. Shell Global Solutions International B.V., Rijswijk (The Netherlands)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Physical Review E
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 94; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 2470-0045
American Physical Society (APS)
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States