Mathematical analysis, scaling and simulation of flow and transport during immiscible two-phase flow
Schmid, Karen Sophie
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Fluid flow and transport in fractured geological formations is of fundamental socio-economic importance, with applications ranging from oil recovery from the largest remaining hydrocarbon reserves to bioremediation techniques. Two mechanisms are particularly relevant for flow and transport, namely spontaneous imbibition (SI) and hydrodynamic dispersion. This thesis investigates the influence of SI and dispersion on flow and transport during immiscible two-phase flow. We make four main contributions. Firstly, we derive general, exact analytic solutions for SI that are valid for arbitrary petrophysical properties. This should finalize the decades-long search for analytical solutions for SI. Secondly, we derive the first non-dimensional time for SI that incorporates the influence of all parameters present in the two-phase Darcy formulation - a problem that was open for more than 90 years. Thirdly, we show how the growth of the dispersive zone depends on the flow regime and on adsorption. To that end we derive the first known set of analytical solutions for transport that fully accounts for the effects of capillarity, viscous forces and dispersion. Finally, we provide numerical tools to investigate the influence of heterogeneity by extending the higher order finite-element finite-volume method on unstructured grids to the case of transport and two-phase flow.