Conservative multirate multiscale simulation of multiphase flow in heterogeneous porous media

Ludovica Delpopolo Carciopolo*, Luca Formaggia, Anna Scotti, Hadi Hajibeygi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate and efficient simulation of multiphase flow in heterogeneous porous media motivates the development of space-time multiscale strategies for the coupled nonlinear flow (pressure) and saturation transport equations. The flow equation entails heterogeneous high-resolution (fine-scale) coefficients and is global (elliptic or parabolic). The time-dependent saturation profile, on the other hand, may exhibit sharp local gradients or discontinuities (fronts) where the solution accuracy is highly sensitive to the time-step size. Therefore, accurate flow solvers need to address the multiscale spatial scales, while advanced transport solvers need to also tackle multiple time scales. This paper presents the first multirate multiscale method for space-time conservative multiscale simulation of sequentially coupled flow and transport equations. The method computes the pressure equation at the coarse spatial scale with a multiscale finite volume technique, while the transport equation is solved by taking variable time-step sizes at different locations of the domain. At each coarse time step, the developed local time-stepping technique employs an adaptive recursive time step refinement to capture the fronts accurately. The applicability (accuracy and efficiency) of the method is investigated for a wide range of two-phase flow simulations in heterogeneous porous media. For the studied cases, the proposed method is found to provide 3 to 4 times faster simulations. Therefore, it provides a promising strategy to minimize the tradeoff between accuracy and efficiency for field-scale applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109134
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Computational Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Conservative multirate methods
  • Iterative multiscale methods
  • Multiphase flow
  • Multiscale finite-volume method
  • Porous media


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