The Harpers THMC flow bench: A triaxial multi-reactor setup for the investigation of long-term coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical fluid-rock interaction

Nick Harpers, Ming Wen, Paul Miller, Suzanne Hangx, Andreas Busch

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Abstract

The scientific analysis and interpretation of coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical (THMC) processes in rocks requires complex and diverse instrumentation. In this study, we introduce the “Harpers THMC Flow Bench,” a multi-cell, flow-through reactor system that allows long-term testing on rock plugs and powdered samples. The setup consists of four small triaxial cells that can hold confining and pore pressure of up to 20 MPa and an axial load of up to 300 MPa. Axial deformation of the samples is measured with linear variable differential transducers. The cells can be heated to 90 °C, and effluents (gas, water, and brine) can be sampled for compositional analysis. An additional Hastelloy-autoclave enables fluid mixing and saturation with gas prior to injection into the samples. Each cell can be operated individually, allowing independent experiments over long testing periods. The sample holders were designed such that they are transparent for X-rays during X-ray computer tomography, minimizing sample handling effects on the imaging results. To demonstrate examples of the capabilities of the flow bench, we present case studies on Carnmenellis granite (Cornwall, UK) and Castlegate sandstone (Utah, USA) samples. Permeability measurements are shown using fractured granite undergoing periodic loading of effective pressure. To demonstrate chemical measurement capabilities, we used deionized water to leach elements from granite powders. We then analyzed effluent compositions using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy. Finally, we conducted a strength test and a cyclic differential stress test on sandstone to demonstrate the mechanical testing capabilities of the setup.
Original languageEnglish
Article number095112
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Volume94
Issue number9
Early online date20 Sept 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sept 2023

Keywords

  • Instrumentation

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