Intrinsic and apparent gas permeability of heterogeneous and anisotropic ultra-tight porous media

Germanou, Lefki and Ho, Minh Tuan and Zhang, Yonghao and Wu, Lei (2018) Intrinsic and apparent gas permeability of heterogeneous and anisotropic ultra-tight porous media. Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering, 60. pp. 271-283. ISSN 1875-5100 (

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Accurate prediction of unconventional gas production requires deep understanding of the permeability of complex rock samples. Several predictive expressions of permeability, which include either simplifications of the porous media structure or the flow mechanisms, have been proposed recently. The main objective of this research is to quantify the impact of solid matrix complexity on both intrinsic and apparent permeability. To this end, numerous two-dimensional random porous media structures are constructed using the quartet structure generation set algorithm. Parametric and statistical analysis reveals the importance of the specific surface area of pores, tortuosity, heterogeneity and degree of anisotropy. Special focus is given to the directional dependency of the permeability on isotropic and anisotropic geometries, considering the great impact of anisotropy on the laboratory evaluation of permeability data and the anisotropic nature of shale rocks. Simulation results, for the same value of porosity, clearly indicate the drastic improvement of permeability due to the reduction of specific surface area of pores and their height to width ratio. This suggests that rock matrix complexity has significant impact on permeability and should not be neglected while forming permeability formulations for porous media. Finally, the results of the apparent permeability, obtained by solving the gas kinetic equation, are taken into consideration to demonstrate the enhancement ratio, slip factor and their correlation with the aforementioned parameters. Semi-analytical expressions for intrinsic and apparent permeability, considering continuum and slip flow respectively, are derived. The proposed formulations, suitable for both isotropic and anisotropic structures, have the advantage of not entailing any numerical or experimental data as input.