Defense Date

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Engineering

First Advisor

Vamsi K. Yadavalli, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Ram B. Gupta, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Laleh Golshahi, Ph.D.

Abstract

Hydraulic fracturing is a process for the extraction of hydrocarbons from underground formations. It involves pumping a specialized fluid into the wellbore under high pressures to form and support fractures in the rock. Fracturing stimulates the well to increase the production of oil and the natural gas which are the pillars of the energy economy. Key to this process is the use of proppants, which are solid materials used to keep the fractures open. Understanding the transport of proppant particles through a fluid is important to improve the efficiency and reduce environmental impact of fracturing. An increase of the settling velocity for instance, will impede the hydraulic fracturing process by reducing well productivity, or necessitate use of chemical additives. This thesis presents a theoretical investigation of the settling velocity of proppant particles. The effect of different parameters on the settling velocity were studied by manipulating the main factors that can influence particle transport. These include size of the particle (300 μm- 2000 μm), sphericity, density (1200 kg/m3-3500 kg/m3) and concentration. These typical values were obtained from commercially available proppants currently used in industry. Various correlations were investigated, assuming the carrier (fracturing) fluid to be an ideal Newtonian and as a power law (non-Newtonian) fluid. This will help predict the settling velocity for proppant particles in order to increase well productivity, and improve hydraulic fracturing efficiency. The models show that changing the carrier fluid viscosity and particle properties such as diameter, density, sphericity, and concentration leads to a significant change in the proppant settling velocity. For instance, reduction in particle size, density, and sphericity tend to reduce the settling velocity, while increasing the concentration of the particles and the fluid viscosity reduce the settling velocity.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

5-12-2016

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