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Pore-scale Pressure Transmission

Question: How do pore fluid pressure fluctuations transmit in, and affect the state of, realistic porous and fractured media?

Albert J. Valocchi Question Leader:
Albert J. Valocchi, PhD
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Albert J. Valocchi is the Abel Bliss Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has been on the faculty at Illinois since 1981. Valocchi’s research focuses upon computational modeling of pollutant fate and transport in porous media, with applications to groundwater contamination, geological sequestration of carbon dioxide, and impacts of model uncertainty on groundwater resources management. He received his B.S. in Environmental Systems Engineering from Cornell University in 1975 and did his graduate studies at Stanford University in the Department of Civil Engineering, receiving his M.S. in 1976 and Ph.D. in 1981. In 2009, he was recognized as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.


Hypothesis Statement: Modeling coupled stress, strain, and multiphase flow processes that induce microseismicity must have pore-scale geologic heterogeneity represented. Realistic geologic heterogeneity of flow paths and solid skeleton can lead to localized increase in pore pressure, leading to localized failure of the solid skeleton or slippage of pre-existing cracks across all scales, thus inducing microseismic events.

Models of pore-scale heterogeneity will be developed based on high-resolution CT scans of rock samples. Pore-scale numerical models that couple multiphase flow and geomechanical responses will be used to investigate key mechanisms triggering microseismic events in various stochastic realizations of rock samples. The models will be validated through comparison with experiments conducted at the pore
and core scale.

Although most microseismic events are innocuous, some may trigger larger events that could be felt at the surface. In other words, all larger events likely are initiated at the pore scale. Advancing the fundamental understanding of attributes responsible for pore-scale microseismicity will lead to understanding injection-induced microseismicity at CO2 storage sites. This research theme aims to understand small-scale processes at the pore and core scale, focusing on how pore-scale heterogeneities in rocks and flow geometry can trigger microseismic events in the presence of brine displaced by CO2 and two-phase flow of CO2 and brine.

Kenneth T. Christensen

Kenneth T. Christensen, PhD
University of Notre Dame

Kenneth T. Christensen is a Professor and the College of Engineering Collegiate Chair in Fluid Mechanics at the University of Notre Dame, with a joint appointment in the Departments of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences. He joined the Notre Dame faculty after 10 years on the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He directs a research group that pursues experimental studies of turbulence, geophysical flows, and microfluidics and is a WPI Principal Investigator in the Carbon Dioxide Storage Division of the International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER) based at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. He also served as the Associate Director of the I2CNER Satellite Center at Illinois from 2011–2014. He is a Fellow of both the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and serves on the Editorial Boards of Experiments in Fluids and Measurement Science and Technology. Past recognition includes the AFOSR Young Investigator Award (2006), the NSF CAREER Award (2007), the Francois Frenkiel Award for Fluid Mechanics from APS-DFD (2011) and, most recently, the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research (2012) from the College of Engineering at Illinois. Dr. Christensen received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico in 1995, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Caltech in 1996, and a Ph.D. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from the University of Illinois in 2001.

Dustin Crandall

Dustin Crandall, PhD
National Energy Technology Laboratory

Dr. Dustin Crandall is a research engineer at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Morgantown, West Virginia. He graduated from Clarkson University with a PhD in mechanical engineering, working with researchers at NETL on his dissertation titled "Two Phase Flow in Porous Media and Fractures". Following graduation, Dr. Crandall was awarded a two year postdoctoral fellowship by the National Research Council evaluating multiphase transport in fractures. Since the post-doc his primary research activities have focused on simulation related to, and experimental analysis of, computed tomography derived flow in fractured geologic media.

Ahmed Elbanna

Ahmed Elbanna, PhD
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Ahmed Elbanna has been an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2013. He holds a PhD in civil engineering (2011) and an MS in applied mechanics (2006), both from the California Institute of Technology, and an MS in structural engineering (2005) and BS in civil engineering (2003) from Cairo University. He was a postdoc in the Physics of Complex Systems group at UCSB (2011–2012). His honors include the National Certificate of Excellence in Engineering (2003), George Housner Fellowship (2005), and National Center for Supercomputing Applications Fellowship (2015). At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Dr. Elbanna currently leads the Mechanics of Complex Systems Laboratory (MCSlab@UIUC). His research focuses on developing computational and analytical models for complex material behavior such as friction, adhesion, fracture, and viscoplasticity, and elucidating the implications of these phenomena, in lieu of other microstructural geometric features, on fracture toughness and optimality in multiscale systems.

Muhammad Sahimi

Muhammad Sahimi, PhD
University of Southern California

Muhammad Sahimi is Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and the NIOC Chair in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Tehran, Iran in 1977, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in 1984, both in chemical engineering. He has been involved with research on porous media and materials for 35 years. He has received several awards for his work, the latest of which the Honorary Membership Prize of the International Society for Porous Media (InterPore) in 2015, the highest award of the society.

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