Pore-scale direct numerical simulation of particle transport in porous media

C. Chen, G. Chai, J. Su, L. Wang, W. Cao, X. Y. Xu, Z. Gu
Chemical Engineering Science
Discrete element method, Fictitious domain method, Fluid–particle flow, pore scale

A computational platform for direct numerical simulation of fluid-particle two-phase flow in porous media is presented in this study. In the proposed platform, the Navier-Stokes equations are used to describe the motion of the continuous phase, while the discrete element method (DEM) is employed to evaluate particle-particle and particle-wall interactions, with a fictitious domain method being adopted to evaluate particle-fluid interactions. Particle-wall contact states are detected by the ERIGID scheme. Moreover, a new scheme, namely, base point-increment method is developed to improve the accuracy of particle tracking in porous media. In order to improve computationally efficiency, a time splitting strategy is applied to couple the fluid and DEM solvers, allowing different time steps to be used which are adaptively determined according to the stability conditions of each solver. The proposed platform is applied to particle transport in a porous medium with its pore structure being reconstructed from micro-CT scans from a real rock. By incorporating the effect of pore structure which has a comparable size to the particles, numerical results reveal a number of distinct microscopic flow mechanisms and the corresponding macroscopic characteristics. The time evolution of the inlet to outlet pressure-difference consists of large-scale spikes and small-scale fluctuations. Apart from the influence through direct contacts between particles, the motion of a particle can also be affected by particles without contact through blocking a nearby passage for fluid flow. Particle size has a profound influence on the macroscopic motion behavior of particles. Small particles are easier to move along the main stream and less dispersive in the direction perpendicular to the flow than large particles.

Keywords: Fluid-particle flow, Pore scale, Fictitious domain method, Discrete element method,

Access Full Text