Field-scale modeling of microbially induced calcite precipitation
Cunningham, Alfred B.
Phillips, Adrienne J.
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The biogeochemical process known as microbially induced calcite precipitation (MICP) is being investigated for engineering and material science applications. To model MICP process behavior in porous media, computational simulators must couple flow, transport, and relevant biogeochemical reactions. Changes in media porosity and permeability due to biomass growth and calcite precipitation, as well as their effects on one another must be considered. A comprehensive Darcy-scale model has been developed by Ebigbo et al. (Water Resour. Res. 48(7), W07519, 2012) and Hommel et al. (Water Resour. Res. 51, 3695–3715, 2015) and validated at different scales of observation using laboratory experimental systems at the Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE), Montana State University (MSU). This investigation clearly demonstrates that a close synergy between laboratory experimentation at different scales and corresponding simulation model development is necessary to advance MICP application to the field scale. Ultimately, model predictions of MICP sealing of a fractured sandstone formation, located 340.8 m below ground surface, were made and compared with corresponding field observations. Modeling MICP at the field scale poses special challenges, including choosing a reasonable model-domain size, initial and boundary conditions, and determining the initial distribution of porosity and permeability. In the presented study, model predictions of deposited calcite volume agree favorably with corresponding field observations of increased injection pressure during the MICP fracture sealing test in the field. Results indicate that the current status of our MICP model now allows its use for further subsurface engineering applications, including well-bore cement sealing and certain fracture-related applications in unconventional oil and gas production.
Cunningham, Alfred B., H. Class, A. Ebigbo, Robin Gerlach, Adrienne J. Phillips, Johannes Hommel, “Field-scale modeling of microbially induced calcite precipitation,” Computational Geosciences, November 2018, 1-16. doi: 10.1007/s10596-018-9797-6.