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GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 25, NO.

9, PAGES 1475-1478, MAY 1, 1998

A study of porosity and permeability using a lattice


Boltzmann simulation

William J. Bosl,1
Center for Applied ScientificComputing, LawrenceLivermore National Laboratory, Livermore,
California

Jack Dvorkin and Amos Nur


GeophysicsDepartment, Stanford University

Abstract. We explicitlycalculatethe absolute(single- ulate fluid flow at the pore scale. See Bryant et al.
phase) permeability of simulatedgranular rocksas the [1993]and Cade et al. [1994]for recentexamplesof
pore space is evolved by various diagenetic schemes. the use of network modelsfor pore-scalestudies. In the
Our goal is to match our computedcurvesto laboratory network model approach,a complexpore spaceis repre-
measurementsof porosity-permeability relationshipsin sentedby a set of idealizedgeometricalfigures. Suchap-
real rocks. To achieve this goal we model rock as a proximationscan be limiting and are often non-unique.
dense random pack of identical spherical grains with Furthermore, it is difficult by such approximations to
diagenetic cement deposited in the pore space. The experiment with various pore evolution schemesas we
positions of the sphere centers in our numerical model have done in this study.
are taken from experimentalmeasurements (the Finney
pack). The diagenesisis simulatedin variousways: uni- 1.1. Lattice-Boltzmann Flow Model
form cement deposition on the surface of each grain
We simulate fluid flow using the lattice Boltzmann
(uniform growth of the grains); cementdepositionat
model (LB). The particularmodelusedhere is the one
grain contacts;cementdepositionaway from grain con-
developedby Ladd [1994]. In our simulations,we as-
tacts; random filling of the pore spaces; and various
combinations of these. Permeability is computed by
sume very low viscositywhichreducesthe full (nonlin-
ear) Navier-Stokes equationto the linear Stokesequa-
explicitly modeling Stokes flow in the simulated pore
space using a lattice Boltzmann method. Our simula-
tion. This describes flow in the creepingor Darcy
regime. The fluid is alsoassumedto be incompressible.
tions produce distinctively different porosity-permeabil-
SinceLadd's paper containsextensivetheoreticaland
ity relationships which are characteristic of the cement
deposition pattern. The distinctive porosity-permeabil- numerical discussions, as well as numerouscomputa-
tional results,we will not repeat detailsof our numerical
ity relationships found in laboratory measurementsof
real rocks are matched by certain simulation schemes. codehere. Continuingapplications of our codeby Ladd
for related studies,includingtests of simplePoiseuille
flow,haveconfirmedthe accuracyof our code(Ladd,
1. Introduction personalcommunication).LB modelsare alsobecom-
ing a common and acceptedtool for pore-scalestudies
A knowledgeof characteristicporosity-permeability
relationships in various reservoir rocks is important for
of fluid flow. Many theoretical and numericalstudies
severalreasons. An understandingof how permeabil- of the lattice Boltzmannmethodare available.See,for
ity dependson pore structure may play a role in the example, Ferreoland Rothman[1995]and Qian et al.
attempt to determine a physical relationship between
[1992].
permeability and acousticvelocity or other measurable
rock properties. This is because pore structure, not 1.2. Pore-Space Models and Simulated
just porosity, determines many rock properties. Perme- Diagenetic Processes
ability changesdue to chemical alteration of the pore We use an LB simulationto computepermeability
spacein rocksmay alsobe an important factor in many versusporosityin granularrocksfor severalpore evo-
crustal processesthat involve fluid flow. lution schemes.The staxtingpore structureis that of
Network models have been extensivelyused to sim- a denserandom pack of identical spheres. The coor-
dinatesof the spherecentershavebeenexperimentally
measured by Finney [1970]and madeavailableto us in
1Alsoat the Geophysics
Department,StanfordUniversity digitalform. Forthisnumericalstudywestart with ap-
proximately4000 spherecentercoordinates,whichcor-
Copyright1998 by the AmericanGeophysicalUnion.
respond to a spherical volume of radius 20min. From
Papernumber98GL00859. this volume, we simulate flow on a cube that is 6ram or
0094-8534/98/98GL-00859505.00 more on each side.

1475
1476 BOSL ET AL.: POROSITY-PERMEABILITY STUDY USING LATTICE BOLTZMANN

Grains in sedimentary environments are generally flow channelsof the pore space.This processmight be
well,sorted due to the physical processesthat deposit expectedto occurduringearly diagenesis, whenburial
them. Furthermore, the depositional processtends to and compactionare occurring.Other physicalmecha-
causegrains to be clusteredas a random densepack, nismsthat mightresultin high-flowporesbeingfilled
rather than in a regular packing. Thus, the useof uni- are certainly possible.
form spheresin a randomdensepackis a reasonablefirst Randompore filling proceededin a simplemanner.
approximationto real sandstones A specifiedpercentage
for studyinggranular of the pore spaceswerefilled
materials. randomlyandthe permeabilitywasrecalculated.This
Pore-space
diagenesis is modeledin this studyby (a) pore-fillingmechanism is includedas anotherentry in
uniformgrowth of the grains,(b)cementdepositionin our catalog of porosity-permeability
relationships.
The
lowfluid flux regions,(c) cementdepositionin highfluid mannerin whichclay appearsto be distributedin the
flux regions,(d) randomprecipitationin the porespace, porespaceof somesedimentary materialssuggests that
and combinationsof these processes. this scheme mighthavea physicalbasis.In realsystems,
Uniform expansionof the grains is accomplishedby combinationsof theseprocesses might reasonablybe ex-
increasingthe radius of the spheresin our simulation. pected to occur. Thus, we investigatedsomecombina-
In our code,grid pointsare initially assumedto be pore tions of our basicdiageneticalgorithms and alteredthe
spacegrid points. As the simulateddiagenesis proceeds, relative weightsas the simulateddiagenesisprogressed.
appropriate grid points are marked as grains. Thus, ex-
pandingthe sphereradii uniformly, for example,causes 2. Scale and Boundary Conditions
no problemsif the spheresoverlap. Geologically,uni-
form expansionof the spherescorrespondsto uniform 2.1. Effect of Sample Size
depositionof cement on grain surfaces. The cemented All LB simulationsare implementedon a cubewhich
glass beads which we measuredin the laboratory are is a spatialsubsetof the full Finneypackdataset.In
also formed by a similar process. In contrast, random this sectionwe investigatehowthe sizeof the cubeand
depositionwas suggestedby X-ray micrographsof thin the grid spacingaffectthe resultingpermeabilityand
sectionsof granularmaterialscontainingsignificantclay porosityvalues. In one simulation,the centerof the
content.
cubeis positionedin the porespace;in the otherit falls
The depositionalschemesthat dependon flow veloc- insidea solidsphericalgrain. By expandingthe walls
ity are simulated by depositing cement in a specified of the cube,we calculatedthe resultingporosityand
fraction of the pore space where the fluid flow veloc- permeability(Figure 1). The resultsshowthat once
ities are the lowest and the highest, respectively. We the lengthof the cubesideexceeds four grainradii, the
speculatedinitially that flow velocity might play a de- scale-relatedfluctuationsin porosity and permeability
terministic role in cementdepositionin real sedimentary becomenegligible.Porosity 0.36 and permeability
processes.We did not assumea particular processwas 2.71 x 106reD,whicharethe experimentally
determined
responsiblefor deposition. Depositionin high flow re- valuesfor a randomdensepackof identicalspheres;see
gionsin real rocksmight be causedby precipitation as Bourbieet al. [1987land
Bryantet al. [1993].
fluid movesinto a different temperature region, for ex-
ample. Alternatively, pore spacesmight be cloggedini- 2.2. Grid size and boundary conditions
tially by smaller particles which are carried in the high
In our numerical simulationswe began with a 6ram
cube (the graindiameteris 2mm). For someof the
pore-fillingschemes,
we foundthat a 10mm cubegave
smootherresultsat low porosities.This effectdoesnot
'Pereabiiity
2! appearto be dueto the grid spacing.Someporefilling
Porosity
1 schemes gavequitesmoothresultsdownto porosities of
6o I- '. 36%l lessthan 5%. When porosity-permeabilitycurveswere
,' 2.7 106 mD not smooth,we foundthat usinga largersamplesize(8
or 10ram)withthesamegridspacing (10gridpointsper
20 !
spherediameter)gavequitegoodresults.Ladd[1994]
Porosity2 Permeability1 alsoreportedthat this resolutionwasadequate.A uni-
0 I I I

0 2 4 6 8 0 2 4 6
form pressuregradientis appliedto the fluid particles
8
SampleCube Size (mm) SampleCube Size (mm) alongthe flowdirection.Then the flux is computedand
the permeabilityobtainedfrom Darcy's law.
Figure 1. The effectof the cubesizeon porosity(a) Both reflectingandperiodicboundaryconditionswere
andpermeability(b). The graindiameteris 2 mm. The tested for the edgesof the samplecube and foundto
computationalgrid spacingis 0.2 mm. The solidcurve
is for the case where the cube center is in the spherical givealmostidenticalresultsin our simulations. All re-
grain; the dotted curveis for the casewhere the cube maining calculations
use periodicboundary conditions
center is in a pore; the horizontalline is the value for on the edges.Reflectingboundaryconditionsoccuron
the entire pack. all interiorsolid(grain)boundaries.
BOSL ET AL.: POROSITY-PERMEABILITY STUDY USING LATTICE BOLTZMANN 1477

107 puted uniformexpansionand random-fillpermeability


curves with superimposedexperimental values for ar-
106 tificialgranularmaterials.The epoxy-cemented
glass
beadsdeviate from the uniform expansioncurve and
-. 105 ottawa the sinteredglassbead resultsfor low porosities. A
Sand probablecauseis the non-uniformepoxy distribution
4 dueto gravity,whichcausedaccumulation of epoxyat
the bottomof the cylindricalsample. The proximity
Troll
of the theoreticaluniform-expansion
curveand exper-
100
imental values indicates that the numerical scheme is
[] Epoxy
Fontainebleau & Sintered
an effectivemethodfor computingporosity-permeabil-
l0 ;andstone
ity relationshipsin complexporousmaterials.
I I
The curveobtainedby fillinglowfluid flux poresdoes
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 not appearto match any of the experimentaldata, so
Porosity it will not be considered
furtherin this study.
Figure 2. Laboratory measurements
of permeability
(normalized
by graindiameter)versusporosityfor sev- 3.2. North Sea Sandstones
eral kinds of sandstoneand for two glass bead packs
(sintered
glassbeadsandepoxycemented
glassbeads). Notice in Figure 2 that at high porosity,the data
points for artificial materialsappearto emanatefrom
the random-dense-pack
point(6.8105roD/ram
2, 0.36).
3. Psults This doesnot appear to be the casefor the North Sea
3.1. Four Basic Diagenetic Processes
sandstones(Oseberg,Troll) andthe Ottawasand.The
curvesforthesematerialsappearto followstraightlines
Laboratory measurementsof permeability and poros- from the regionof the Ottawa sandpoint of highest
ity data are displayedin Figure 2. Theoretical curves porosity and do not pass through the random-dense-
in subsequent figuresstart either from the Finney pack pack point. The uniform expansionmodel appears
point, or from the point that is computedby contracting to describethe porosity-permeabilityrelationshipfor
the spheresuntil the porosity approximatelymatches cementedand sinteredglassbeads, but overestimates
that of Ottawa sand. Our computedvalues match the the permeabilityof North Seasandstones.
Physically,
experimentallydeterminedvaluesfor the Finney pack this suggests
that North Sea sandstones
beginas an-
[Finney,1970]. cementedgrains,similar to Ottawa sand, and then un-
Note that all of our permeability values are normal- dergo a diageneticprocesswhich is different from uni-
ized by either the spherediameter(for theoreticalor form expansion.
artificial spherepacks)or the estimatedaveragegrain To test this hypothesiswe attempt to find a theoret-
size. This is the only way to comparepermeability val- ical diageneticschemewhich will model the North Sea
uesbetweengranularmaterialsof differentgrain scales. curves.We beginby contractingthe spheresin the sim-
The uniform expansioncurve,for high porosities,ap-
pears to match experimentalresults obtained for the 106 , I
Uniform
artificial cemented sphere packs, particularly the sin- Oseber
tered glassbeads. In Figure 3, we display the com- Expansion
105 Ottawa

106 Uniform Expansion


Model 4 ro.
105 :-r-.
' - Random
_ :rff
ff/, lpoxy-Cemented
Fill / HighsOnly
104 _ // ' Glass
Beads i- Filled
100
]:1//
.....
/
Sintered
GlassBeads
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5
Porosity
Figure 4. Computedporosity-permeability curvesde-
100 rivedby fillinghigh-flowporesanduniformlyexpanding
the spheressimultaneously. At eachdiageneticstep,4%
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5
of the high-flowporesare filled. Uniformexpansionfor
Porosity the threeboldcurvesstartsat a) 0.0005mm, b) 0.0003
Figure 3. Computed porosity-permeabilitycurvesfor mm,andc) 0.0001mmperdidgenetic step,respectively.
uniform sphereexpansionand random filling with su- This expansionis increasedby a factor of 2.0 after each
perimposeddata pointsfor artificial spherepacks. step.
1478 BOSL ET AL' POROSITY-PERMEABILITY STUDY USING LATTICE BOLTZMANN

106 _ Unifo
rmExpansion
' ' . a. 0.125 mm for the averagegrain diameter. The match to
the uniform expansioncurveis so close,and so distinctly

105 _
Model
_'// ' / different from the North Sea sandstones,that we feel
further study is neededon the manner in which scaling
....:i:'
Ottawal is donewhen comparingporosity-permeabilityrelation-
shipsin granular materials with dissimilarmean grain
10
4 sizes.Another study of Fontainebleauusinga different
,F o Fontainebleau diageneticschememaybe foundin Gal et al. [1998].
10o0 o (diem= 0.25mm)
;:.2'
'r' '.......' 1eau
Fontaineb 4. Conclusions

100
(diem
=0.125
mm) We found that certain relationships that resulted
0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 from our diagenetic algorithms appear to correspond
Porosity to variousdiageneticpatterns in natural rocks and ce-
Figure . Computediform expamionpority- mented bead packs. Though our primary goal was to
permeability
cve, datapointsforFontainebleau
sd- find depositionalschemesthat would match our mea-
stone,sung ain sizeof 0.25, d Fontain sured data, this study may also be useful as a catalog
bleausming aim e 0.125 in diameter. of porosity-permeabilityrelationshipsthat result from
the severalgeometricalalgorithmsthat controlthe di-
agenesisin our simulations.
ulated Finneypackuniformlyuntil the porosityis ap- Acknowledgments.We aregrateful to SteveBryantforsupplying
uswith
proximatelythat of the mostporousOttawadatapoint. thedigitalFinneypackof spherecenters.WJB thanksTonyLaddfor
We then evolvethe granularmaterialusingvariousdi- helpfuldiscussions
aboutlatticeBoltzmann simulations.
TheGasResearch
Institute,through
Contract
GRI-5094-210-3125,
fundedtheearlyphaseof
agenetic
schemes.
Notethat the trendsfor the North thisproject.
Sea sandstonesare distinctivelydifferentfrom that of
Fontainebleausandstone,which will be consideredsep-
arately. References
In order to match the North Sea sandstone trends, Bourbie, T., and B. Zinszner, Hydraulic and acousticprop-
we foundit necessary to combinetwo differentdiage- erties as a function of porosity in fountainebleausand-
neticschemes.In Figure4 we showcurvesfor uniform stone, Journal of GeophysicalResearch, 90, 11,524-
expansionandfillingof high-flowpores.Theseformthe 11,532, 1985.
Bourbie,T., O. Coussy,and B. Zinszner,Acousticsof Porous
two extremecurvesin the figure.The threecurvesthat Media, Gulf Publishing Co, Houston, Texas, 1987.
fall between the extremes were computed by allowing Bryant, S. L., D. W. Melior, and C. A. Cade,Physicallyrep-
the rate of uniformexpansionto increaseas the diage- resentativenetwork models of transport in porousmedia,
nesisproceeded.That is, the initial porecementation AIChE Journal, 39(3), 387-396, 1993.
was due primarilyto filling of high-flowpores. Later, Ferreol, B., and D. H. Rothman, Lattice boltzmann
uniformexpansion becamethe dominantprocess.Such fontainebleau sandstone, Transport in Porous Media,
a changein diagenesis is not unreasonablephysically. Finney,J., Randompackings and the structureof simple
The cementationprocessmight be'expectedto alter as liquidsi. the geometryof randomclosepacking,Proc.
burial and compactionof sedimentsproceeds. Roy. $oc., 319A, 479, 1970.
Gal, D., J. Dvorkin,andA. Nut, A physicalmodelforporos-
3.3. Fontainebleau Sandstone ity reductionin sandstones, Geophysics,63(2),1-6, 1998.
Ladd, A. J. C., Numericalsimulationsof particulatesus-
The Fontainebleau sandstone data points are quite pensionsvia a discretizedboltzmannequation.part 1,
distinct from the North Sea sandstones.The shape of theoreticalfoundation,Journal of Fluid Mechanics,271,
the Fontainebleautrend appears to be similar to the 285-309, 1994.
Qian, Y. H., D. d'Humieres,and P. Lallemand,Lattice
uniformexpansioncurve, as shownin Figure 5. The BGK modelsfor Navier-Stokesequation, Europhys.Lett.,
curve for random depositionof cementappearsto also 17(6), 479-484, 1992.
havea shapethat is similarto the uniformexpansion
curveand to the Fontainebleautrend, but shifteddown-
William J. Bosl,Centerfor AppliedScientificComputing,
LawrenceLivermoreNational Laboratory, P.O. Box 808, L-
An averagegrain diameterof 0.25 mm for Fontaine- 561, Livermore, California 94550
bleauwasobtainedfrom Bourbieand Zinszner[1985]. Amos Nut and Jack Dvorkin, GeophysicsDepartment,
Photomicrographs of Fontainebleau taken 317 Mitchell Building MC2215, StanfordUniversity,Stan-
thin sections
by oneof the authorsrevealsthat the averagegraindi- ford, CA 94305
ameterappearssomewhatsmallerin somesamples.We
foundthat the Fontainebleaudata pointsmatch the uni- (ReceivedApril 17, 1997; revisedFebruary 19, 1998;
form expansioncurvevery well if we normalizedusing acceptedFebruary23, 1998.)