Pore size effect on selective gas transport in shale nanopores
TA Ho and YF Wang, JOURNAL OF NATURAL GAS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING, 83, 103543 (2020).
In shale gas production, gas composition may vary over time. To understand this phenomenon, we use molecular dynamics simulations to study the permeation of CH4, C2H6 and their mixture from a source container through a pyrophyllite nanopore driven by a pressure gradient. For a pure gas, the flow rate of CH4 is always higher than that of C2H6, regardless of pore size. For a 1:1 C2H6 : CH4 mixture, however, C2H6:CH4 flow rate ratio is higher than the compositional ratio in the container (i.e., 1:1) when the pore size is smaller than similar to 1.8 nm. The selective transport is caused by the competitive adsorption of C2H6 over CH4 in the nanopore. The selectivity is also determined by the interplay between the surface diffusion of the adsorbed molecules and the viscous flow in the center of the pore, and it diminishes as the viscous flow becomes to dominate the surface diffusion when the pore size becomes larger than 1.8 nm. Our work shows that compositional differentiation of shale gas in production is a consequence of nanopore confinement and therefore a key characteristic of an unconventional reservoir. The related compositional information can potentially be used for monitoring the status of a production well such as its recovery rate.
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