Importance of dynamic mesh adaptivity for simulation of viscous fingering in porous media

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Peyman Mostaghimi1, Matthew Jackson2, Christopher Pain2 and Gerard Gorman2, (1)University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia, (2)Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Viscous fingering is a major concern in many natural and engineered processes such as water flooding of heavy-oil reservoirs. Common reservoir simulators employ low-order finite volume/difference methods on structured grids to resolve this phenomenon. However, their approach suffers from a significant numerical dispersion error along the fingering patterns due to insufficient mesh resolution and smears out some important features of the flow. We propose use of an unstructured control volume finite element method for simulation of viscous fingering in porous media. Our approach is equipped with anisotropic mesh adaptivity where the mesh resolution is optimized based on the evolving features of flow. The adaptive algorithm uses a metric tensor field based on solution error estimates to locally control the size and shape of elements in the metric. We resolve the viscous fingering patterns accurately and reduce the numerical dispersion error significantly. The mesh optimization, generates an unstructured coarse mesh in other regions of the computational domain which significantly decreases the computational cost. The effect of grid resolution on the resolved fingers is thoroughly investigated. We analyze the computational cost of mesh adaptivty on unstructured mesh and compare it with common finite volume methods. The results of this study suggests that mesh adaptivity is an efficient and accurate approach for resolving complex behaviors and instabilities of flow in porous media such as viscous fingering.