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Electro-osmotically generated two-phase flow in porous media


Electrical streaming potentials are generated when water flows through many porous materials, e.g. rock. By monitoring such potentials we can learn about fluid motion during production of water/oil from reservoirs or during seismic events (earthquakes, man -made seismic shocks). Conversely, if an electric field is applied to rock, fluid can be made to flow (electro-osmosis).

The physics governing streaming potentials and electro-osmosis are understood when the rock pores are filled with a single fluid. However, petroleum reservoirs often contain not only oil, but also gas or water. Thus two-phase flow is of great importance for the oil industry. Much less is known about electro-osmotically generated two-phase flow.

Fuller understanding would help with the development of electroseismic techniques for O and G exploration, and with techniques for monitoring the approach of water towards oil wells. This understanding will also apply to 2-phase flow in micro-mechanical (mems) devices (lab on a chip), and to the generation of electric potentials during or prior to earthquakes.

The main objectives are:

To investigate two-phase electro-osmotic flow through geometries representing the irregular pores of rock, by means of numerical computations of
- motion of a drop through a constriction
- motion of a train of drops, with results linked into network simulators of flow in rock pores, which have successfully predicted single-phase electro-osmotic flow.

To expose E.Lac (the fellow) to new problems of practical importance to industry, as part of his training/career development:
- encouraging Lac to interact with other groups within the host lab.
- requiring him to attend weekly seminars,
- training visits to other Schlumberger R and D centres. Lac will profit from the freedom appropriate to a post-doc, whilst nevertheless guided by a senior scientist. Lacs excellent research record demonstrates that he will profit from this exposure to diverse practical.

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