Transport in Porous Media

, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp 487–504 | Cite as

Relative Permeability Calculations from Two-Phase Flow Simulations Directly on Digital Images of Porous Rocks

  • Thomas Ramstad
  • Nasiru Idowu
  • Cyril Nardi
  • Pål-Eric Øren


We present results from a systematic study of relative permeability functions derived from two-phase lattice Boltzmann (LB) simulations on X-ray microtomography pore space images of Bentheimer and Berea sandstone. The simulations mimic both unsteady- and steady-state experiments for measuring relative permeability. For steady-state flow, we reproduce drainage and imbibition relative permeability curves that are in good agreement with available experimental steady-state data. Relative permeabilities from unsteady-state displacements are derived by explicit calculations using the Johnson, Bossler and Naumann method with input from simulated production and pressure profiles. We find that the nonwetting phase relative permeability for drainage is over-predicted compared to the steady-state data. This is due to transient dynamic effects causing viscous instabilities. Thus, the calculated unsteady-state relative permeabilities for the drainage is fundamentally different from the steady-state situation where transient effects have vanished. These effects have a larger impact on the invading nonwetting fluid than the defending wetting fluid. Unsteady-state imbibition relative permeabilities are comparable to the steady-state ones. However, the appearance of a piston-like front disguises most of the displacement and data can only be determined for a restricted range of saturations. Relative permeabilities derived from unsteady-state displacements exhibit clear rate effects, and residual saturations depend strongly on the capillary number. We conclude that the LB method can provide a versatile tool to compute multiphase flow properties from pore space images and to explore the effects of imposed flow and fluid conditions on these properties. Also, dynamic effects are properly captured by the method, giving the opportunity to examine differences between steady and unsteady-state setups.


Relative permeability Lattice Boltzmann simulations Steady-state Unsteady-state Sandstone 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Ramstad
    • 1
  • Nasiru Idowu
    • 1
  • Cyril Nardi
    • 1
  • Pål-Eric Øren
    • 1
  1. 1.Numerical Rocks ASTrondheimNorway

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