Simulating fracture sealing by granular LCM particles in geothermal drilling

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17 Scopus citations


Lost circulation occurs when the returned fluid is less than what is pumped into the well due to loss of fluid to pores or fractures. A lost-circulation event is a common occurrence in a geothermal well. Typical geothermal reservoirs are often under-pressured and have larger fracture apertures. A severe lost-circulation event is costly and may lead to stuck pipe, well instability, and well abandonment. One typical treatment is adding lost-circulation materials (LCMs) to seal fractures. Conventional LCMs fail to properly seal fractures because their mechanical limit is exceeded at elevated temperatures. In this paper, parametric studies in numerical simulations are conducted to better understand different thermal effects on the sealing mechanisms of LCMs. The computational fluid dynamics (CFDs) and the discrete element method (DEM) are coupled to accurately capture the true physics of sealing by granular materials. Due to computational limits, the traditional Eulerian–Eulerian approach treats solid particles as a group of continuum matter. With the advance of modern computational power, particle bridging is achievable with DEM to track individual particles by modeling their interactive forces between each other. Particle–fluid interactions can be modeled by coupling CFD algorithms. Fracture sealing capability is investigated by studying the effect of four individual properties including fluid viscosity, particle size, friction coefficient, and Young’s modulus. It is found that thermally degraded properties lead to inefficient fracture sealing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4878
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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