A microfluidic pore model to study the migration of fine particles in single-phase and multi-phase flows in porous media

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Fine particles within porous media may migrate with the flowing fluid and cause bridging or clogging in the pore space. Bridging and clogging reduce the flow permeability of porous media, which has a significant influence on petroleum engineering applications such as water and oil extraction, sand production, and gas production from hydrate-bearing sediments. Although the migration of fine particles and its impact on bridging and clogging have been investigated for a single-phase flow, it has not been understood clearly for a multi-phase flow. This work reports an approach using microfluidic pore models to study the migration of fine particles and the bridging/clogging behavior in a structure mimicking porous media. Results from the microfluidic model show that: (1) fine particles accumulated along the water and gas (CO2) interface; (2) fine particle concentrations in pores locally increased due to the accumulated particles at the interface, and (3) consequently bridging and clogging occurred in the pore throat. Findings from this work provide a starting point in understanding complex phenomena including a reduced flow permeability of porous media on a fluid containing fine particles for a variety of petroleum engineering applications.

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Microsystem Technologies

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