Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A 4-Phase Flow Model for Methane Production from an Unconsolidated Hydrate Reservoir
by Hinz, Deniz M., Ph.D., Illinois Institute of Technology, 2019, 333; 22587405
Abstract (Summary)

Natural gas from hydrates is extremely abundant as an energy resource; US resource-grade hydrate deposits are estimated to be over 20 times the domestic proved natural gas resources, at approximately 7000 trillion cubic feet (tcf). The theoretical potential of hydrates is immense, but production testing and research remain lacking, which has led to the development of numerous hydrate production numerical simulators for consolidated porous media hydrate reservoirs. However, due to the onset of unconsolidated flow behavior upon significant hydrate dissociation, numerical models haven’t agreed well with the experimental data from the Mallik production tests. Hydrate contributes substantially to the strength of the sediment matrix, such that hydrate-bearing sediment ultimately falls apart exhibiting 4-phase unconsolidated flow behavior of gas, water, hydrate, and sand.

In order to better capture the multiphase flow characteristics of gas, water, hydrate, and sand in an unconsolidated gas hydrate reservoir, we have developed a novel 4-phase flow model coupled with numerical simulation of the Mallik 2007/2008 production tests. The model is able to capture the coupled 4-phase hydrodynamics, mass transfer, and heat transfer physics inherent to the unconsolidated hydrate reservoir. Solid deformation is modeled by extending multiphase and granular flow theory to hydrate-bearing sediment. Constitutive models for the solid viscosity and solid pressure are developed to model the change in strength of the sediment as hydrate dissociates and the solid deforms. The solid viscosity is a composite of frictional contributions from the solid normal stress and cohesive contributions from the hydrate. The interphase momentum exchange between the fluid phases (gas and water) and solid phases (hydrate and sand) modeled based on a volume-averaged approach that considers the formation and closure of high-permeability volumes due to dilation and compaction of hydrate-bearing sediment as it deforms.

By considering the deformation of solids and the subsequent effect on the permeability, the 4-phase simulations showed good agreement with the experimental data from the Mallik 2007/2008 production phases. The 4-phase modeling approach serves as a proof of concept for the application of granular flow theory to hydrate-bearing sediment. An unconsolidated hydrate reservoir with sustained sand production essentially behaves like a naturally fracking reservoir, exhibiting a dramatic increase in permeability induced solely by depressurization. Conversely, preventing sand production with a sand screen ultimately leads to significant throttling of the gas production rate due to the compaction and accumulation of sand at the sand screen.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Arastoopour, Hamid, Abbasian, Javad
Commitee: Wasan, Darsh, Cassel, Kevin
School: Illinois Institute of Technology
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 81/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Chemical engineering, Energy
Keywords: Computational fluid dynamics, Granular flow, Methane hydrate, Modeling, Multiphase flow, Numerical simulation
Publication Number: 22587405
ISBN: 9781088376577
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