Flow Visualization and Relative Permeability Measurements in Rough-Walled Fractures

by P. Persoff, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Berkeley, United States,
K. Pruess, Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Berkeley, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993


Two-phase (gas-liquid) flow experiments were done in a natural rock fracture and transparent replicas of natural fractures. Liquid was injected at constant volume flow rate, and gas was injected at either constant mass flow rate or constant pressure. When gas was injected at constant mass flow rate, the gas inlet pressure, and inlet and outlet capillary pressures, generally did not reach steady state but cycled irregularly. Flow visualization showed that this cycling was due to repeated blocking and unblocking of gas flow paths by liquid. Relative permeabilities calculated from flow rate and pressure data show that the sum of the relative permeabilities of the two phases is much less than 1, indicating that each phase interferes strongly with the flow of the other. Comparison of the relative permeability curves with typical curves for porous media (Corey curves) show that the phase interference is stronger in fractures than in typical porous media.

Subject Headings: Gas flow | Flow measurement | Flow visualization | Curvature | Cracking | Inlets (waterway) | Permeability (material) | Porous media

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