Steam - Water Relative Permeability
Ambusso, Willis Jakanyango
Horne, R. N.
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Reliable measurement of steam-water relative permeability functions is of great importance for geothermal reservoir performance simulation. Despite their importance, these functions are poorly known due to the lack of fundamental understanding of steam-water flows, and the difficulty of making direct measurements. The Stanford Geothermal Program has used an X-ray CT (Computer Tomography) scanner to obtain accurate saturation profiles by direct measurement. During the last five years, we have carried out experiments with nitrogen-water flow and with steam-water flow, and examined the effects of heat transfer and phase change by comparing these sets of results. In porous rocks, it was found that the steam-water relative permeabilities follow Corey type relationships similar to those in nitrogen-water flow, but that the irreducible gas phase saturation is smaller for steam than for nitrogen. The irreducible saturations represent substantial fractions of the recoverable energy in place yet are hard to determine in the field. Understanding the typical magnitude of irreducible saturations will lead to a much clearer forecast of geothermal field performance. In fracture flow, indirect measurements suggested that the relative permeabilities follow a linear (or "X-curve") behavior --but there is still considerable uncertainty in the knowledge of this behavior.