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Transport of fluids in microporous materials

Abstract : The share of unconventional resources in the global energy mix is expected to rise because of the shortage of conventional fossil resources. The major part of these unconventional resources are found in source rocks such as gas shales. The profitability of shale reservoirs strongly depends on the quality, type and content of organic matter contained in the rock. Indeed, it is admitted that more than half of the hydrocarbons stored in the shale are adsorbed in the solid organic matter, the so-called kerogen. The latter exhibits a microporous amorphous structure, and acts as both the source and the reservoir of hydrocarbons. Kerogen is finely dispersed in the mineral matrix and represents about 5\% of the total mass of the rock. The understanding of the transport of fluids at the microporous scale is of crucial importance for optimizing the recovery of these resources. More specifically, how the structural properties of the microporous material and thermodynamic conditions influence its transport properties is an open question. In this regard, the main objective of this thesis is to document the transport properties of hydrocarbons through kerogens and to improve their theoretical description. To do so, we opted for a numerical approach based on molecular simulations of molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo codes performed on molecular models of mature kerogen, as well as simplified model systems. We thus explored transport mechanisms at the molecular scale, at which experimental observations are difficult, if not impossible. Supercritical thermodynamic conditions (high pressure, high temperature) were considered, which are characteristic of shale gas reservoirs. The first part of this work has consisted in studying the transport and adsorption properties of pure fluids in mature kerogen structures reconstructed by molecular simulations. We studied the dependence of the transport properties on the variations of the thermodynamic conditions (pressure gradient at a fixed temperature) as well as the influence of the pore size distribution. In order to better understand and describe the diffusion of fluids at the scale of a microporous constriction between two pores, the second objective of this thesis focused on a model system, which consisted of a single-layer solid with a slit aperture of controllable width. We simulated the diffusional transport of simple fluids through the constriction for various geometrical parameters (aspect ratio between the width of the pore and the size of the diffusing molecules) and thermodynamic conditions (temperature, fluid loading). These simulations results have been compared to the predictions of a theoretical model, based on the kinetic theory and classical statistical mechanics, which accounts for the effect of temperature on the accessible porosity and the effect of fluid loading at the entrance of the pore. A good agreement was observed between the simulated values of the diffusion coefficients and the predictions of the proposed model. The investigation of this simplified system helped in understanding the molecular sieving phenomena inherent to the transport of fluids in microporous materials such as kerogen.
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Fouad Oulebsir. Transport of fluids in microporous materials. Fluids mechanics [physics.class-ph]. Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, 2017. English. ⟨tel-01778659⟩

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