FEIT Research Project Database

Simulation-based engineering research of proppant transport in hydraulic fractures

Project Leader: Stephan Matthai
Primary Contact: Stephan Matthai (stephan.matthai@unimelb.edu.au)
Keywords: carbon capture and storage
Disciplines: Infrastructure Engineering

Proppant particles play a crucial role for the success of hydraulic fracturing operations since these particles are responsible for maintaining a conductive fluid pathway for either hydrocarbon withdrawal from unconventional reservoirs or fluid circulation in an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS). On the one hand, a poor selection of proppants and design of injection scheme can result in an early screen-out of the proppants leading to the failure of the fracturing operation (M.A.A Ahamed et al., 2019; https://doi-org.ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/10.1016/j.fuel.2019.04.166). On the other hand, a properly engineered tip screen-out can be used to control the extent of hydraulic fractures. Furthermore, and apart from their impact on fluid density and viscosity, proppant particles also alter fluid rheology, thus affecting the fracturing process by changing the dominant energy dissipation mechanism from viscosity-dominated regime to toughness-dominated regime (Hoss BelyadiHoss BelyadiBelyadi, H., et al., 2017, https://www.sciencedirect.com/book/9780128498712/hydraulic-fracturing-in-unconventional-reservoirs).

Through this research project you will become part of a joint effort between the geomechanics team at CSIRO and the Reservoir / Geotechnical Engineering group at Melbourne University. You will study how proppant particles move through rock fractures as part of the hydraulic fracturing fluid and subject to gravitational settlement, screen-out and blockage of narrow fractures; and you will analyse how fluid properties vary with proppant concentration. This will be simulation-based engineering research building on the strengths of the Complex Systems Modelling Platform (CSMP++), which becomes open source in 2020 and which you are going to contribute to.

**** Successful applicants will be awarded a tax-free stipend ($31,200) and fee offset scholarship (closing date 31 October 2020). For information on scholarships and to apply visit here (https://scholarships.unimelb.edu.au/awards/graduate-research-scholarships).

To submit your interest to do a PhD on this project, please email your information:

  • Resume with the details of any published papers
  • Full academic transcripts

to Prof Stephan Matthai at stephan.matthai@unimelb.edu.au


Figure 1