Simulation models for the minimum velocity for foam generation and propagation

G. Yu, W.R. Rossen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Foam injection is a promising means of reducing the relative mobility of gas, and hence improving the sweep efficiency of gas, in CO2 and H2 storage, soil-contaminant removal in aquifer remediation, enhanced oil recovery, and matrix-acid well stimulation. Theory (Rossen and Gauglitz, 1990; Ashoori et al., 2012) and experiments (Gauglitz et al., 2002; Yu et al., 2019, 2020) indicate that both foam generation and propagation in steady flow in porous media require the attainment of a sufficiently large superficial velocity or pressure gradient ∇P. Here we examine several foam-simulation models for their ability to represent a minimum velocity, or trigger, for foam generation. We define criteria for representation of such a trigger. For simplicity, we assume a homogeneous porous medium and absence of an oleic phase. We examine the Population-Balance (PB) models of Kam and Rossen (2003) and one of its variants (Kam, 2008), and the PB model of Chen et al. (2010); and the implicit-texture (IT) models in CMG-STARS (Computer Modeling Group, 2017) and of Lotfollahi et al. (2017). Our result show that the PB models of Kam and Rossen and its variant, and the IT models of CMG-STARS and of Lotfollahi et al. do represent a minimum velocity for foam generation. They achieve this by modeling an abrupt decrease in gas mobility with increasing pressure gradient over some range of ∇P. The model of Chen et al. (2010) is based on the model of Kovscek and Radke (1996), which was not intended to represent a trigger for foam generation (Kovscek and Radke, 1993). We cannot say categorically whether it could predict a trigger for any set of model parameter values. Instead, we derive criteria that must be satisfied by the choice of parameters to represent a trigger for foam generation. In simulations of radial foam propagation the STARS foam model predicts that foam propagation fails at the radius at which local ∇P cannot maintain strong foam, not at a greater velocity and ∇P as seen in experiments (Yu et al., 2020). In addition, we identify a fundamental challenge in representing foam generation at the large ∇P at the wellbore in a numerical simulation: conventional simulators do not represent ∇P at the wellbore. Foam generation at the very high superficial velocity at the well radius is not represented in the absence of truly exceptional grid refinement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110406
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Foam for CO/H storage
  • Foam for enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
  • Foam generation
  • Foam propagation
  • Foam simulation models
  • Numerical reservoir simulation

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