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Published December 23, 2011 | public
Journal Article

Multiscale method for characterization of porous microstructures and their impact on macroscopic effective permeability


Recent technology advancements on X-ray computed tomography (X-ray CT) offer a nondestructive approach to extract complex three-dimensional geometries with details as small as a few microns in size. This new technology opens the door to study the interplay between microscopic properties (e.g. porosity) and macroscopic fluid transport properties (e.g. permeability). To take full advantage of X-ray CT, we introduce a multiscale framework that relates macroscopic fluid transport behavior not only to porosity but also to other important microstructural attributes, such as occluded/connected porosity and geometrical tortuosity, which are extracted using new computational techniques from digital images of porous materials. In particular, we introduce level set methods, and concepts from graph theory, to determine the geometrical tortuosity and connected porosity, while using a lattice Boltzmann/finite element scheme to obtain homogenized effective permeability at specimen-scale. We showcase the applicability and efficiency of this multiscale framework by two examples, one using a synthetic array and another using a sample of natural sandstone with complex pore structure.

Additional Information

© 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Received 4 February 2011; Revised 4 April 2011; Accepted 7 April 2011. Article first published online: 9 May 2011. This work has been partly funded by the Geosciences Research Program of the U.S. Department of Energy under Grant No. DE-FG02-08ER15980. This support is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank Dr. Nicolas Lenoir for providing the tomographic images of the Aztec sandstone and Dr. David Salac for valuable discussions on the variational level set scheme.

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