Confinement Correction to Mercury Intrusion Capillary Pressure of Shale Nanopores

S Wang and F Javadpour and QH Feng, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 6, 20160 (2016).

DOI: 10.1038/srep20160

We optimized potential parameters in a molecular dynamics model to reproduce the experimental contact angle of a macroscopic mercury droplet on graphite. With the tuned potential, we studied the effects of pore size, geometry, and temperature on the wetting of mercury droplets confined in organic-rich shale nanopores. The contact angle of mercury in a circular pore increases exponentially as pore size decreases. In conjunction with the curvature-dependent surface tension of liquid droplets predicted from a theoretical model, we proposed a technique to correct the common interpretation procedure of mercury intrusion capillary pressure (MICP) measurement for nanoporous material such as shale. Considering the variation of contact angle and surface tension with pore size improves the agreement between MICP and adsorption- derived pore size distribution, especially for pores having a radius smaller than 5 nm. The relative error produced in ignoring these effects could be as high as 44%-samples that contain smaller pores deviate more. We also explored the impacts of pore size and temperature on the surface tension and contact angle of water/vapor and oil/gas systems, by which the capillary pressure of water/oil/gas in shale can be obtained from MICP. This information is fundamental to understanding multiphase flow behavior in shale systems.

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