Improved discrete element modeling for proppant embedment into rock surfaces
Brinell indentation tests were performed on Montney siltstone, and the results were compared with discrete element indentation simulations that use the micro-parameters calibrated using compression test data from the same siltstone samples. The simulated proppant indentation into the rock surface can be 15% less than the laboratory measurements. A lower effective particle–particle modulus and thus a lower Young’s modulus are needed in discrete element models for proper simulation of indentation. An equation to find the appropriate value of Young’s modulus for indentation simulation is proposed using Brinell indentation tests including 198 laboratory tests and 32 discrete element simulations. This equation can improve the prediction of Young’s modulus and thus the particle–particle effective modulus for indentation simulations to match the measured force–indentation depth curve in the laboratory. Using the improved micro-parameters, a parametric analysis of the influence of rock Young’s modulus and proppant particle size on proppant embedment was performed. An equation to estimate Brinell hardness as a function of Young’s modulus and closure stress was derived. A practical procedure was developed to predict proppant embedment from the estimated hardness. The predictions agree with the laboratory measurements in a case study on the Montney Formation.
Keywords: Brinell hardness, Brinell indentation test, Discrete element modeling, Montney siltstone, Proppant embedment