Giving peeps to my props: Using 3D printing to shed new light on particle transport in fractured rock.

Monday, 15 December 2014: 5:00 PM
Stuart D Walsh, Wyatt L Du Frane, John J Vericella and Roger D Aines, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA, United States
Smart tracers and smart proppants promise new methods for sensing and manipulating rock fractures. However, the correct use and interpretation of these technologies relies on accurate models of their transport. Even for less exotic particles, the factors controlling particle transport through fractures are poorly understood.

In this presentation, we will describe ongoing research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory into the transport properties of particles in natural rock fractures. Using three dimensional printing techniques, we create clear-plastic reproductions of real-world fracture surfaces, thereby enabling direct observation of the particle movement. We will also discuss how particle tracking of dense particle packs can be further enhanced by using such specially tailored flow cells in combination with micro-encapsulated tracer particles. Experimental results investigating the transport behavior of smart tracers and proppants close to the neutrally buoyant limit will be presented and we will describe how data from these experiments can be used to improve large-scale models of particle transport in fractures.

This work performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344.