Effects of Gas Trapping on Foam Mobility in a Model Fracture

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In enhanced oil recovery, foam can effectively mitigate conformance problems and maintain a stable displacement front, by trapping gas and reducing its relative permeability in situ. In this study, to understand gas trapping in fractures and how it affects foam behavior, we report foam experiments in a 1-m-long glass model fracture with a hydraulic aperture of 80 μm. One wall of the fracture is rough, and the other is smooth. Between the two is a 2D porous medium representing the aperture in a fracture. The fracture model allows direct visualization of foam inside the fracture using a high-speed camera. This study is part of a continuing program to determine how foam behaves as a function of the geometry of the fracture pore space (AlQuaimi and Rossen in Energy & Fuels 33: 68-80, 2018a). We find that local equilibrium of foam (where the rate of bubble generation equals that of bubble destruction) has been achieved within the 1-m model fracture. Foam texture becomes finer, and less gas is trapped as interstitial velocity, and pressure gradient increase. Shear-thinning rheology of foam has also been observed. The fraction of trapped gas is significantly lower in our model (less than 7%) than in 3D geological pore networks. At the extreme, when velocity increases to 7 mm/s, there is no gas trapped inside the fracture. Our experimental results of trapped-gas fraction correlate well with the correlation of AlQuaimi and Rossen (SPE J 23: 788-802, 2018b) for fracture-like porous media. This suggests that the correlation can also be applied to gas trapping in fractures with other geometries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-200
Number of pages16
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Capillary number
  • Foam
  • Fracture
  • Gas trapping
  • Local equilibrium

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