Impact of wettability on capillary phase trapping using pore-network modeling

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The impact of rock wettability on phase mobility and capillary trapping is significant in the valuation of geologic carbon sequestration scenarios. Wetting conditions of CO2/brine/rock systems can vary from site to site and over time due to changes in temperature, pressure, salinity, mineral composition and surface roughness. Therefore, effective predictability of CO2 mobility and trapping in underground formations requires a thorough exploration of the relationship between wetting conditions and phase saturation over a wide range of contact angles. In this paper, we use pore-network modeling to investigate the effect of wettability on phase mobility and capillary trapping. We simulate different wetting and nonwetting conditions during secondary flooding cycles where the initial phase saturations are varied significantly. Characteristic initial-residual (IR) saturation curves and the locus of residual phase connectivity and saturation are determined for each wettability condition. Simulations show that when the receding phase is the wetting phase, there is reduced trapping of that phase owing to piston-like advance by the nonwetting phase and sustained layer flow of the wetting phase. Such flow regimes cause nonlinearity in the characteristic initial-residual (IR) saturation curve, which is not captured by traditional trapping models. A proposed extended Land-based model matches the IR trends for all wettabilities. Simulations also show that the loci of residual phase saturation and phase connectivity are a strong function of wettability. When the receding phase is strongly nonwetting, the locus remains nearly constant in phase connectivity, while at increasingly wetting conditions, the locus forms a closed-loop in the saturation-connectivity space, where the endpoint of the locus is constrained by pore topology as residual saturations approach low values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104606
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
StatePublished - Feb 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology

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