Fossil energy - Neutrons run deep

Date: 03/01/2018
Source: www.ornl.gov

Eagle Ford Shale Formation rock samples Eagle Ford Shale Formation rock samples Victoria DiStefano, University of Tennessee Bredesen Center graduate student researcher, and her adviser, Lawrence Anovitz of ORNL, study rock samples from the Eagle Ford Shale Formation in Texas. Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Victoria DiStefano, University of Tennessee Bredesen Center graduate student researcher, and her adviser, Lawrence Anovitz of ORNL, study rock samples from the Eagle Ford Shale Formation in Texas. Credit: Jason Richards/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

To improve models for drilling, hydraulic fracturing and underground storage of carbon dioxide, Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists used neutrons to understand how water flows through fractured rock. Researchers used neutrons bouncing off the hydrogen in water molecules to see inside the rock’s microstructure without destroying it and quantify water uptake in real time.

“One of the biggest challenges with shale is that it’s such a complex system,” ORNL’s Victoria DiStefano said. “Neutrons help us grasp the complex rock and fracture properties, which determine how quickly water uptake occurs in the rock.” Results of the study, which used rock samples from the oil- and gas-rich Eagle Ford Shale Formation in Texas, are detailed in the Journal of Earth Science. Future research will explore how fracture characteristics, such as roughness and mineralogy, affect these interactions.

Neutrons “see” how water flows through fractured rock Neutrons “see” how water flows through fractured rock Neutrons “see” how water flows through fractured rock - click to play the video!

Neutrons “see” how water flows through fractured rock – click to play the video!

Original Publication

V. DiStefano, M. Cheshire, J. McFarlane, L. Kolbus, R. Hale, E. Perfect, H. Bilheux, L. Santodonato, D. Hussey, D. Jacobson, J. LaManna, P. Bingham, V. Starchenko, L. Anovitz
Spontaneous imbibition of water and determination of effective contact angles in the Eagle Ford Shale Formation using neutron imaging
Journal of Earth Science (2017)
DOI: 10.1007/s12583-017-0801-1

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