Analysis of a model for foam improved oil recovery

Grassia, P. and Mas-Hernández, E. and Shokri, N. and Cox, S. J. and Mishuris, G. and Rossen, W. R. (2014) Analysis of a model for foam improved oil recovery. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 751. pp. 346-405. ISSN 0022-1120 (

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During improved oil recovery (IOR), gas may be introduced into a porous reservoir filled with surfactant solution in order to form foam. A model for the evolution of the resulting foam front known as ‘pressure-driven growth’ is analysed. An asymptotic solution of this model for long times is derived that shows that foam can propagate indefinitely into the reservoir without gravity override. Moreover, ‘pressure-driven growth’ is shown to correspond to a special case of the more general ‘viscous froth’ model. In particular, it is a singular limit of the viscous froth, corresponding to the elimination of a surface tension term, permitting sharp corners and kinks in the predicted shape of the front. Sharp corners tend to develop from concave regions of the front. The principal solution of interest has a convex front, however, so that although this solution itself has no sharp corners (except for some kinks that develop spuriously owing to errors in a numerical scheme), it is found nevertheless to exhibit milder singularities in front curvature, as the long-time asymptotic analytical solution makes clear. Numerical schemes for the evolving front shape which perform robustly (avoiding the development of spurious kinks) are also developed. Generalisations of this solution to geologically heterogeneous reservoirs should exhibit concavities and/or sharp corner singularities as an inherent part of their evolution: propagation of fronts containing such ‘inherent’ singularities can be readily incorporated into these numerical schemes.