Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Remote predictions of fluid flow in fractures possible with new finding

A graph of the scaling relationship between fluid flow and fracture stiffness is shown. The shape of the symbol indicates the fracture length scale from 0.0625 meter (circles) to 1 meter (triangle) and the colors correspond to different apertures.
CREDIT: Image courtesy of Pyrak-Nolte
A graph of the scaling relationship between fluid flow and fracture stiffness is shown. The shape of the symbol indicates the fracture length scale from 0.0625 meter (circles) to 1 meter (triangle) and the colors correspond to different apertures.

CREDIT: Image courtesy of Pyrak-Nolte

Abstract:
Approaching a universal scaling relationship between fracture stiffness and fluid flow

Laura J. Pyrak-Nolte and David D. Nolte

A goal of subsurface geophysical monitoring is the detection and characterization of fracture alterations that affect the hydraulic integrity of a site. Achievement of this goal requires a link between the mechanical and hydraulic properties of a fracture. Here we present a scaling relationship between fluid flow and fracture-specific stiffness that approaches universality. Fracture-specific stiffness is a mechanical property dependent on fracture geometry that can be monitored remotely using seismic techniques. A Monte Carlo numerical approach demonstrates that a scaling relationship exists between flow and stiffness for fractures with strongly correlated aperture distributions, and continues to hold for fractures deformed by applied stress and by chemical erosion as well. This new scaling relationship provides a foundation for simulating changes in fracture behavior as a function of stress or depth in the Earth and will aid risk assessment of the hydraulic integrity of subsurface sites.

Remote predictions of fluid flow in fractures possible with new finding

West Lafayette, IN | Posted on February 23rd, 2016

A team of researchers has created a way to quickly and remotely evaluate fluid flow in subsurface fractures that could impact aquifers, oil and gas extraction, sequestration of greenhouse gases or nuclear waste and remediation of leaked contaminants.

Laura Pyrak-Nolte and David Nolte, both professors of physics at Purdue University, found a nearly universal scaling relationship between fracture stiffness and fluid flow that applies to low porosity rock, or roughly more than 50 percent of all rock on Earth.

Through this mathematical relationship the pair created a tool that, through a fracture's stiffness and depth, can reveal its potential fluid flow rate, which can be used to predict flow path and evaluate the hydraulic integrity of a site.

It has been difficult to create a universal way to evaluate fractures because of the wide range of sizes, from microns to kilometers. In addition, fractures in the Earth are dynamic and subject to frequent changes in stress, chemistry and fluid pressures, said Pyrak-Nolte, who led the work.

"When you look at all of these very different fractures, it seems like each would be different and the rates at which fluid could flow through them would be different," she said. "Now we have found the single underlying physical principle that explains them all."

The team also showed that high frequency wave measurement, in which seismic waves are used like radar to provide the basic dimensions of a fracture, can be used to obtain the stiffness of a fracture. When this technology is paired with the new scaling law, it allows for a remote scan of a fracture to reveal the potential fluid flow at a particular site and also to monitor potential changes in fluid flow at a site over time, Pyrak-Nolte said.

The findings are detailed in a paper in the journal Nature Communications that is currently available online.

Throughout her career Pyrak-Nolte has studied fractures in the Earth's subsurface and has developed tools and gathered information that led to this finding.

"Through decades of study of fractures and related science, we were able to pull together all of the threads and see the pattern in the tapestry," said Pyrak-Nolte who also has courtesy appointments in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering and the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. "I think this is a good example of the importance of long-term funding. Without the long-term support of the Department of Energy, I wouldn't have had the steady exposure in this area necessary to arrive at the creation of a very useful and practical tool."

Fractures have been considered one of the most difficult things to deal with in subsurface activities and their study has been a major area of focus for the DOE, said Nolte, who is Purdue's Edward M. Purcell Distinguished Professor of Physics.

"The units of measurement that describe the different fracture properties span 10 orders of magnitude, which means fluid flow varies by 10 orders of magnitude or more - fractures are mathematically all over the place," he said. "If you had asked me just one year ago, I would have said there may not be a single relationship to bring it all together. We thought it might be different for each class of fracture. However, once we figured out the parameters and keys to linking them together, the data collapsed into one beautiful curve. It is amazing how radically different topologies can be and yet still be described by the same physical principle."

The researchers created mathematical functions that tie together mechanical and hydraulic properties of the fractures. From these mathematical functions they were able to create a graph in which one can use a fracture's stiffness to pinpoint where it falls in a curve describing fluid flow. The information and graph is freely available.

The team also looked at what would happen if a fracture eroded, as could occur during carbon sequestration, and found that the scaling law still held, Pyrak-Nolte said.

The stiffness of a fracture depends on the points of contact of the two surfaces involved. The more points of contact, the more stable or stiff the fracture. The key to linking this stiffness with fluid flow rate was the geometry, because both characteristics depended on a shared geometry, Nolte said.

The duo ran more than 3,600 simulations for each fracture type using Purdue's Rosen Center for Advanced Computing.

"For years this was our hypothesis and now it has finally been demonstrated," he said. "In the past people used averages from among the many different classes of fractures to inform their decisions, but these averages missed key points. Now we have a functional framework of how to treat fractures of different depths that captures important nuances."

In the future, the team hopes to further validate the methods at a field site with known fractures and to pursue the creation of a similar framework for the behavior of networks of fractures.

###

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences and the Geoscience Research Program, funded the research.

In addition, Pyrak-Nolte is a member of the Center for Nanoscale Controls on Geologic CO2, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center. The center, led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, supported the research related to the behavior of chemically eroded fractures.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Writer:
Elizabeth Gardner

765-494-2081

Sources:
Laura Pyrak-Nolte
765-494-3027


David Nolte
765-494-3013

Copyright © Purdue University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

RELATED JOURNAL ARTICLE:

Related News Press

News and information

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

The stacked color sensor: True colors meet minimization November 16th, 2017

Nanometrics to Participate in the 6th Annual NYC Investor Summit 2017 November 16th, 2017

Mining/Extraction/Drilling

Promising sensors for submarines, mines and spacecraft: MSU scientists are developing nanostructured gas sensors that would work at room temperature November 10th, 2017

Using light to propel water : With new method, MIT engineers can control and separate fluids on a surface using only visible light April 25th, 2017

Researchers discover new chemical sensing technique: Technique allows sharper detail -- and more information -- with near infrared light June 24th, 2016

UQ research accelerates next-generation ultra-precise sensing technology June 10th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

EC Project Aims at Creating and Commercializing Cyber-Physical-System Solutions November 14th, 2017

Nanobiotix presented new clinical and pre-clinical data confirming NBTXR3ís significant potential role in Immuno-Oncology at SITC Annual Meeting November 14th, 2017

Leti Joins DARPA-Funded Project to Develop Implantable Device for Restoring Vision November 9th, 2017

Nanoshells could deliver more chemo with fewer side effects: In vitro study verifies method for remotely triggering release of cancer drugs November 8th, 2017

Discoveries

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

The stacked color sensor: True colors meet minimization November 16th, 2017

Counterfeits and product piracy can be prevented by security features, such as printed 3-D microstructures: Forgeries and product piracy are detrimental to society and industry -- 3-D microstructures can increase security -- KIT researchers develop innovative fluorescent 3-D stru November 15th, 2017

Announcements

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

The stacked color sensor: True colors meet minimization November 16th, 2017

Nanometrics to Participate in the 6th Annual NYC Investor Summit 2017 November 16th, 2017

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

ICN2 researchers compute unprecedented values for spin lifetime anisotropy in graphene November 17th, 2017

Math gets real in strong, lightweight structures: Rice University researchers use 3-D printers to turn century-old theory into complex schwarzites November 16th, 2017

The stacked color sensor: True colors meet minimization November 16th, 2017

Counterfeits and product piracy can be prevented by security features, such as printed 3-D microstructures: Forgeries and product piracy are detrimental to society and industry -- 3-D microstructures can increase security -- KIT researchers develop innovative fluorescent 3-D stru November 15th, 2017

Environment

Dendritic fibrous nanosilica: all-in-one nanomaterial for energy, environment and health November 4th, 2017

Nano-sized gold particles have been shaped to behave as clones in biomedicine November 3rd, 2017

Electrostatic force takes charge in bioinspired polymers November 2nd, 2017

How harmful are nano-copper and anti-fungal combinations in the waterways? October 27th, 2017

Energy

Inorganic-organic halide perovskites for new photovoltaic technology November 6th, 2017

Dendritic fibrous nanosilica: all-in-one nanomaterial for energy, environment and health November 4th, 2017

New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater: Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions October 4th, 2017

Researchers set time limit for ultrafast perovskite solar cells September 22nd, 2017

Water

A new way to mix oil and water: Condensation-based method developed at MIT could create stable nanoscale emulsions November 8th, 2017

Magnetized viruses attack harmful bacteria: Rice, China team uses phage-enhanced nanoparticles to kill bacteria that foul water treatment systems August 2nd, 2017

Bacteria-coated nanofiber electrodes clean pollutants in wastewater July 1st, 2017

Smart materials used in ultrasound behave similar to water, Penn chemists report June 16th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project