A coupled thermo-poro-mechanical finite element analysis of fractured porous rocks using a cohesive interface element

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Richard A Regueiro and Wei Wang, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, United States
The coupling between multiphase flow, heat transfer, and poromechanics in fractured geomaterials has aroused great interest in the areas of geomechanics, geoenvironmental engineering, and petroleum engineering. Relevant applications include nuclear waste repositories, geological sequestration of CO2, geothermal systems, and exploitation of shale gas reservoirs. The paper presents a fully coupled thermo-poro-mechanical (TPM) cohesive interface element (CIE) model, which can represent fluid and heat flow along and across the fracture, and shear/normal deformation of the fracture surfaces. The proposed model is then applied to analyze two popular geological engineering problems using the finite element method (FEM) with a small strain formulation. The first application is the fracturing process in organic-rich shale due to heating. In the finite element analysis, multiple horizontal microcracks parallel to the bedding plane are assumed to preexist in the porous source rock, and are represented by coupled TPM cohesive interface elements. The porous bulk rock is assumed to be homogeneous, isotropic (for the time being, with transverse isotropy a natural extension), and linearly elastic. The excess pore fluid pressure, which mainly causes the development of the fractures, is actually induced by the rapid decomposition of organic matter during heating according to the literature. However, the involved complex chemical reaction process is beyond the scope of the paper, and is therefore substituted by a fluid injection process within the cracks under room temperature (25C) and high temperature (400C) in the paper. We investigate the fracture propagation due to pore fluid pressure increase and the development of fracture-induced permeability. The second application is a nuclear waste repository in a partially saturated fractured rock. Multiphase transport of moisture and heat, thermally-induced stress, as well as the change of fracture apertures are investigated due to short-and long-term high temperature effects.