Pore-scale Imaging and Modeling of Rocks
Recorded on June 13, 2012 (90 minutes)

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Martin Blunt's talk will review pore-scale imaging and modeling, with an emphasis on X-ray methods to produce three-dimensional images of rocks followed by the simulation of single and multiphase flow and transport through them.  Successes of this approach in predicting flow properties are shown, together with an assessment of the potential of the technology, current limitations, and challenges for the future.

Herman Lemmens will discuss how the development of shale plays created a need for higher resolution imaging. Conventional imaging techniques were no longer able to resolve pore networks down to the nanometer scale. FIB/SEM, while originally developed for the semiconductor industry, now moves into O&G applications because of its ability to create three-dimensional datasets with nanometer scale resolution. Interestingly, FIB/SEM technology is also attraction attention from researchers in conventional reservoirs; for instance to study microporous regions in carbonates.

This talk explains the technology of FIB/SEM and presents many applications both in conventional and unconventional reservoirs. Current challenges are tackled such as the limited volumes imaged; anisotropy of the dataset and throughput improvements. Emphasis is put on integrating this technology with other imaging techniques to come to a more complete understanding of reservoir characteristics.

FIB/SEM combines the high resolution 2D images of a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with the precise cutting capability of a Focused Ion Beam (FIB). The FIB removes carefully controlled amounts of material to create 2D sections, parallel and aligned, with inter-section spacing of the order of 10nm. Each 2D section is imaged with the SEM. In this way, after careful combination of the subsequent slices, a 3D model with SEM resolution in the XY direction and 10nm in the z-direction is obtained.

Another capability of the electron beam is mineral classification. The electron beam induces X-rays that are characteristic of the phase irradiated by the beam. Comparing the energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectrum with a library of phases transforms the typical grey-level SEM images into powerful mineral maps. Examples of mineral maps of the full core surface are used to judge heterogeneity of the sample and this leads to a better insight where to perform 3D imaging by FIB/SEM. 

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Martin Blunt joined Imperial in June 1999 as a Professor of Petroleum Engineering. He served as Head of the Department of Earth Science and Engineering from 2006-2011. Previous to this he was Associate Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Stanford University in California. Before joining Stanford in 1992, he was a research reservoir engineer with BP in Sunbury-on-Thames. He holds MA and PhD (1988) degrees in theoretical physics from Cambridge University.

Professor BMartin Blunt joined Imperial in June 1999 as a Professor of Petroleum Engineering. He served as Head of the Department of Earth Science and Engineering from 2006-2011. Previous to this he was Associate Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Stanford University in California. Before joining Stanford in 1992, he was a research reservoir engineer with BP in Sunbury-on-Thames. He holds MA and PhD (1988) degrees in theoretical physics from Cambridge University.

Professor Blunt's research interests are in multiphase flow in porous media with applications to oil and gas recovery, contaminant transport and clean-up in polluted aquifers and geological carbon storage. He performs experimental, theoretical and numerical research into many aspects of flow and transport in porous systems, including pore-scale modeling of displacement processes and large-scale simulation using streamline-based methods.  He has written over 200 scientific papers and is on the editorial boards of three international journals.  In 2011 he was awarded the Uren Award from the Society of Petroleum Engineers for outstanding contributions to the technology of petroleum engineering made before the age of 45.

Blunt's research interests are in multiphase flow in porous media with applications to oil and gas recovery, contaminant transport and clean-up in polluted aquifers and geological carbon storage. He performs experimental, theoretical and numerical research into many aspects of flow and transport in porous systems, including pore-scale modeling of displacement processes and large-scale simulation using streamline-based methods.  He has written over 200 scientific papers and is on the editorial boards of three international journals.  In 2011 he was awarded the Uren Award from the Society of Petroleum Engineers for outstanding contributions to the technology of petroleum engineering made before the age of 45.

Herman Lemmens is a product manager with FEI, based in the Netherlands. His current role is with translating the needs for imaging in the O&G industry into product specifications for new electron microscopy tools. Hermanís primary areas of interest are imaging of porosity in the organic phases in shale, integrating imaging at different length scales and relating mineral textures to fracturing efficiency. Herman represents FEI in the Digital Core Consortium at Australian National University. This consortium develops imaging and analysis technology for characterizing core via microCT to FIB/SEM scales. Herman holds a PhD in Physics from the University of Antwerp. His thesis focused on phase transformations and microstructure in tridymite and perovskite type minerals, studied by transmission electron microscopy. His email address is herman.lemmens@fei.com.