Mechanistic foam flow simulation in heterogeneous and multidimensional porous media

Anthony R. Kovscek*, Tadeusz W. Patzek, Clayton Radke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

144 Scopus citations


Gases typically display large flow mobilities in porous media relative to oil or water, thereby impairing their effectiveness as displacing fluids. Foamed gas, though, is a promising agent for achieving mobility control in porous media. Because reservoir-scale simulation is a vital component of the engineering and economic evaluation of any enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or aquifer remediation project, efficient application of foam as a displacement fluid requires a predictive numerical model. Unfortunately, no such model is currently available for foam injection in the field where flow is multidimensional and the porous medium is heterogeneous. We have incorporated a conservation equation for the number density of foam bubbles into a fully implicit, three-dimensional, compositional, and thermal reservoir simulator and created a fully functional, mechanistic foam simulator. Because foam mobility is a strong function of bubble texture, the bubble population balance is necessary to make accurate predictions of foam-flow behavior. Foam generation and destruction are included through rate expressions that depend on saturations and surfactant concentration. Gas relative permeability and effective viscosity are modified according to the texture of foam bubbles. In this paper, we explore foam flow in radial, layered, and heterogeneous porous media. Simulations in radial geometries indicate that foam can be formed deep within rock formations, but that the rate of propagation is slow. Foam proves effective in controlling gas mobility in layered porous media. Significant flow diversion and sweep improvement by foam are predicted, regardless of whether the layers are communicating or isolated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-526
Number of pages16
JournalSPE Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology


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