Optimizing synthetic core plugs: Sintered glass beads and sand particles for natural rock property replication in fluid flow and reservoir studies

Reza Khoramian, Peyman Pourafshary, Saeed Golshokooh, Riyaz Kharrat

Publikation: KonferenzbeitragPaperBegutachtung


Developing reliable synthetic cores that accurately mimic natural rock properties is crucial for
studying fluid flow and reservoir processes. This paper presents a novel study for fabricating
synthetic core samples by fusing glass beads and sand particles within cylindrical molds. Various
synthetic core production and characterization factors were explored, including material selection,
fabrication parameter optimization, pore size distribution, and capillary behavior analysis.
Ceramic tubes were ideal for core fabrication due to their high-temperature tolerance, durability,
and reusability. Quartz glass beads were preferred for their transparency and enhanced heat
stability. Varying the size and shape of the glass beads influenced porosity, with round particles
having lower porosity and angular particles showing higher porosity. The packing procedure and
furnace type affected porosity and permeability, with tightly packed arrangements resulting in
lower values. Optimal sintering conditions were identified at 680°C for 15 minutes, resulting in
high porosity and permeability. Incorporating sand particles at a 1:6 sand-to-glass-bead ratio
enhanced core stability under challenging conditions (740°C), achieving high-pressure resistance
(≈15,000 psi) and tighter cores with lower porosity (≈11%) and permeability (≈5 mD) compared
to cores made solely of glass beads, which had lower pressure resistance (≈2,300 psi) and higher
porosity (≈31%) and permeability (≈3,190 mD). Synthetic cores demonstrated exceptional
stability under fluid flow conditions, with minimal property changes (≈<1%) and wettability
alterations comparable to natural cores. The capillary pressure study confirmed the similarity of
synthetic cores to real cores, revealing variations in pore sizes and residual mercury saturations.
Overall, this innovative study highlights the potential of sintered glass beads for producing better
synthetic core plugs. Including sand particles at elevated temperatures and extended retention
times enables the production of tighter synthetic core plugs. The findings confirm the essential role
of sintered glass beads in replicating natural rock properties and studying fluid flow at reservoir
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - Feb. 2024

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