A Combined Micro-CT Imaging/Microfluidic Approach for Understating Methane Recovery in Coal Seam Gas Reservoirs

Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 13:40
3016 (Moscone West)
Peyman Mostaghimi, Ryan T Armstrong, Alireza Gerami, Hamed Lamei Ramandi and Majid Ebrahimi Warkiani, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Coal seam methane is a form of natural gas stored in coal beds and is one of the most important unconventional resources of energy. The flow and transport in coal beds occur in a well-developed system of natural fractures that are also known as cleats. We use micro-Computed Tomography (CT) imaging at both dry and wet conditions to resolve the cleats below the resolution of the image. Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) is used for calibration of micro-CT data. Using soft lithography technique, the cleat system is duplicated on a silicon mould. We fabricate a microfluidic chip using Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) to study both imbibition and drainage in generated coal structures for understating gas and water transport in coal seam reservoirs. First, we use simple patterns observed on coal images to analyse the effects of wettability, cleat size and distribution on flow behaviour. Then, we study transport in a coal by injecting both distilled water and decane with a rate of 1 microliter/ min into the fabricated cleat structure (Figure 1), initially saturated with air. We repeat the experiment for different contact angles by plasma treating the microfluidic chip, and results show significant effects of wettability on the displacement efficiency. The breakthrough time in the imbibition setup is significantly longer than in the drainage. Using rapid video capturing, and high resolution microscopy, we measure the saturation of displacing fluid with respect to time. By measuring gas and liquid recovery in the outlet at different saturation, we predict relative permeability of coal. This work has important applications for optimising gas recovery and our results can serve as a benchmark in the verification of multiphase numerical models used in coal seam gas industry.