Three-Phase Flow (Experiments and Simulation)

David DiCarlo

Understanding the dynamics of three-phase flow is essential for optimizing enhanced oil recovery and vadose zone remediation processes. The ultimate recovery of oil and other non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) depends on the residual saturations and relative permeabilites of each of the phases. In particular, the wettability of the porous media affects the placement of the fluids in the porous media and the relative permeabilities.

Previously we have shown experimentally how the oil relative permeability scales with oil saturation at low oil saturations for different wettabilities. These results imply  very low residual oil saturations are obtainable under three-phase gravity. Currently, we are measuring three-phase relative permeabilities throughout the entire saturation range for a range of wettabilities. These results will lead to experimentally based relative permeability models which can be directly input into simulations of gas injection.