Inderscience Publishers

Single–phase lattice Boltzmann simulations of pore–scale flow in fractured permeable media

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The objective of this work is to investigate fracture flow characteristics at the pore–scale, and evaluate the influence of the adjacent permeable matrix on the fracture's permeability. We use X–ray computed microtomography to produce three–dimensional images of a fracture in a permeable medium. These images are processed and directly translated into lattices for single–phase lattice Boltzmann simulations. Three flow simulations are presented for the imaged volume, a simulation of the pore space, the fracture alone and the matrix alone. We show that the fracture permeability increases by a factor of 15.1 due to bypassing of fracture choke points through the matrix pore space. In addition, pore–scale matrix velocities were found to follow a logarithmic function of the distance from the fracture. Finally, our results are compared against previously proposed methods of estimating fracture permeability from fracture roughness, tortuosity, aperture distribution and matrix permeability. [Received: April 28, 2011; Accepted: July 29, 2011]

Keywords: pore scale modelling, fracture permeability, fractures, fractured porous media, lattice Boltzmann, X–ray computed microtomography, fluid flow, simulation

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