Pore-Scale Simulations of Gas Displacing Liquid in a Homogeneous Pore Network Using the Lattice Boltzmann Method

Research paper by Haihu Liu, Albert J. Valocchi, Qinjun Kang, Charles Werth

Indexed on: 24 Jul '13Published on: 24 Jul '13Published in: Transport in Porous Media


A lattice Boltzmann high-density-ratio model, which uses diffuse interface theory to describe the interfacial dynamics and was proposed originally by Lee and Liu (J Comput Phys 229:8045–8063, 2010), is extended to simulate immiscible multiphase flows in porous media. A wetting boundary treatment is proposed for concave and convex corners. The capability and accuracy of this model is first validated by simulations of equilibrium contact angle, injection of a non-wetting gas into two parallel capillary tubes, and dynamic capillary intrusion. The model is then used to simulate gas displacement of liquid in a homogenous two-dimensional pore network consisting of uniformly spaced square obstructions. The influence of capillary number (Ca), viscosity ratio (\(M\)), surface wettability, and Bond number (Bo) is studied systematically. In the drainage displacement, we have identified three different regimes, namely stable displacement, capillary fingering, and viscous fingering, all of which are strongly dependent upon the capillary number, viscosity ratio, and Bond number. Gas saturation generally increases with an increase in capillary number at breakthrough, whereas a slight decrease occurs when Ca is increased from \(8.66\times 10^{-4}\) to \(4.33\times 10^{-3}\), which is associated with the viscous instability at high Ca. Increasing the viscosity ratio can enhance stability during displacement, leading to an increase in gas saturation. In the two-dimensional phase diagram, our results show that the viscous fingering regime occupies a zone markedly different from those obtained in previous numerical and experimental studies. When the surface wettability is taken into account, the residual liquid blob decreases in size with the affinity of the displacing gas to the solid surface. Increasing Bo can increase the gas saturation, and stable displacement is observed for \(Bo>1\) because the applied gravity has a stabilizing influence on the drainage process.