Reports: UNI851245-UNI8: Enhanced Oil Recovery by Analysis and Control of Vortex Flow in Porous Media

Fatemeh Hassanipour, PhD, University of Texas (Dallas)

1.  Experimental Setup: The construction of the experimental setup was concluded, including a glass tank (24x 24x 24 in3) to visualize the flow. A packed bed of spherical glass beads is used in the tank to represent a porous medium. These beads are available in the range 0.7~2 mm, allowing us to make various porous media with different porosities.

To create a vortex flow, a pneumatic force actuator is used with position feedback (Enfield Technologies ACT-1, connected to a piston cylinder . The actuator moves forward by the force of pressurized air and is controlled by a high-speed proportional valve (Enfield Technologies LS-V15). As the piston translates forward, the boundary layer developing inside the cylinder separates at the cylinder lip, rolling up into a vortex ring. To define and monitor the velocity of piston, a National Instrument controlling system is used. The required programs were written by one of the member of the research team. Among the features of this program is a user friendly panel that allows the velocity profile to be entered in the computer. At this stage of the work, we have been able to verify that a precisely controlled velocity can be produced in a repeatable and consistent manner which would be observable in a wide variety of configurations. Vortex ring generation has been tested and successfully visualized.

2.  Theoretical Work: Parallel to the work on experimental setup, one undergraduate and one graduate (MS) student performed a simulation study involving a numerical analysis of a two-dimensional vortical flow propagating through an isotropic, rigid, homogeneous porous medium. The vortical flow is produced by a piston-cylinder vortex ring generator. The objective was to understand the flow behavior in porous media as a function of impingement velocity and porous media properties, specifically, porosity and permeability. Results showed that the formation of vortices and flow pattern in porous media strongly depend on permeability but have only a weak dependence on the porosity and Reynolds number. Furthermore, the average vorticity over the porous medium is calculated for various velocities, porosities and permeability's. The results show that for laminar flow injection, the average vortivcity is not influenced by either porosity or permeability of the domain. However, for high Reynolds flow velocity, permeability and porosity both play significant roles on the magnitude of the overall vorticity. A paper was published in the Journal of Porous Media, acknowledging the support of the American Chemical Society-Petroleum Research Fund.

3.  Dissemination of Research Findings: Dr. Hassanipour (PI) presented the results from the above experimental and theoretical investigation in the 4th International Conference on Porous Media and its Applications in Science, Engineering and Industry, June 2012, Potsdam, Germany.

4.  Educational Activities: One full-time masters degree student (Howard Fultz) was supported by this grant whose time was dedicated to the construction of the experimental setup and the computer program for the controlling system of the experiment. Through this project, he learned how to write the NI codes and gained expertise in working with NI control software. He has recently joined a company that does very similar coding and programming for various industrial controlling systems. Mr. Fultz will graduate in the Spring 2013. His master degree thesis will reflect his work on this project.

Two other graduate (MS) students, Mr. Navid Omidvar and Ms. Laura Small, also contributed partly to this project. These students participated in our project meetings and discussions regarding the research in oil and refinery areas. Ms. Small graduated Last December and joined AkerSolution. Mr. Omidvar will graduate in the Spring 2013 has already joined Natioanl Oilwelll Varco company. Both companies are in the area of oil extraction in Houston area, therefore the funding has contributed to the education of individuals who will contribute to the area of petroleum engineering in one way or another.

5.  Teaching Course Regarding the Topic of Porous Media: The PI developed a graduate level course at University of Texas at Dallas entitled Transport Phenomena in Porous Media.

6.  Student Involvements: One full time masters degree student conducted the experimental work. One undergraduate student was involved in the modeling and simulation work supervised under another part-time masters degree student.

7.  Additional Support: This ACS-PRF grant helped the PI to obtain some preliminary results. These results have helped the PI to jump start her research program and seek additional funding. The PI has been granted additional support from National Science Foundation.