Use of the subsurface for energy resources (enhanced geothermal systems, conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons), or for storage of waste (CO2, radioactive), requires the prediction of how fluids and the fractured porous rock mass interact. The GREAT cell (Geo-Reservoir Experimental Analogue Technology) is designed to recreate subsurface conditions in the laboratory to a depth of 3.5 km on 200 mm diameter rock samples containing fracture networks, thereby enabling these predictions to be validated. The cell represents an important new development in experimental technology, uniquely creating a truly polyaxial rotatable stress field, facilitating fluid flow through samples, and employing state of the art fibre optic strain sensing, capable of thousands of detailed measurements per hour. The cell’s mechanical and hydraulic operation is demonstrated by applying multiple continuous orientations of principal stress to a homogeneous benchmark sample, and to a fractured sample with a dipole borehole fluid fracture flow experiment, with backpressure. Sample strain for multiple stress orientations is compared to numerical simulations validating the operation of the cell. Fracture permeability as a function of the direction and magnitude of the stress field is presented. Such experiments were not possible to date using current state of the art geotechnical equipment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, Institute for GeoEnergy Engineering - Professor
- School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society - Professor
- Research Centres and Themes, Energy Academy - Professor
Person: Academic (Research & Teaching)