Computation of fluid flow and pore-space properties estimation on micro-CT images of rock samples

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Accurate determination of the petrophysical properties of rocks, namely REV, mean pore and grain size and absolute permeability, is essential for a broad range of engineering applications. Here, the petrophysical properties of rocks are calculated using an integrated approach comprising image processing, statistical correlation and numerical simulations. The Stokes equations of creeping flow for incompressible fluids are solved using the Finite-Volume SIMPLE algorithm. Simulations are then carried out on three dimensional digital images obtained from micro-CT scanning of two rock formations: one sandstone and one carbonate. Permeability is predicted from the computed flow field using Darcy's law. It is shown that REV, REA and mean pore and grain size are eectively estimated using the two-point spatial correlation function. Homogeneity and anisotropy are also evaluated using the same statistical tools. A comparison of dierent absolute permeability estimates is also presented, revealing a good agreement between the numerical value and the experimentally determined one for the carbonate sample, but a large discrepancy for the sandstone. Finally, a new convergence criterion for the SIMPLE algorithm, and more generally for the family of pressure-correction methods, is presented. This criterion is based on satisfaction of bulk momentum balance, which makes it particulary useful for pore-scale modelling of reservoir rocks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-129
Number of pages25
JournalComputers & Geosciences
Early online date9 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

This work was jointly sponsored by EPSRC (EP/I010971/1) and NSFC China.


  • digital rock physics
  • permeability estimation
  • carbonate
  • Finite-Volume SIMPLE
  • two-point correlation
  • micro-computer tomography


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