Thermoporoelastic effects during heat extraction from low permeability geothermal reservoirs are investigated numerically, based on the model of a horizontal penny-shaped fracture intersected by an injection well and a production well. A coupled formulation for thermo-hydraulic (TH) processes is presented that implicitly accounts for the mechanical deformation of the poroelastic matrix. The TH model is coupled to a separate mechanical contact model (M) that solves for the fracture contact stresses due to thermoporoelastic compression. Fractures are modelled as surface discontinuities within a three-dimensional matrix. A robust contact model is utilised to resolve the contact tractions between opposing fracture surfaces. Results show that due to the very low thermal diffusivity of the rock matrix, the thermally-induced pore pressure partially dissipates even in the very low-permeability rocks that are found in EGS projects. Therefore, using the undrained thermal expansion coefficient for the matrix may overestimate the volumetric strain of the rock in low-permeability enhanced geothermal systems, whereas using a drained thermal expansion coefficient for the matrix may underestimate the volumetric strain of the rock. An “effective” thermal expansion coefficient can be computed from the drained and undrained values to improve the prediction for the partially-drained matrix.
- Coupled formulation
- Enhanced geothermal systems
- Low-permeability rock
- Undrained thermal expansion coefficient