FRACSTIM/I: An Integrated Fracture Stimulation and Reservoir Flow and Transport Simulator Geothermal Lab Call Project

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Last modified on July 22, 2011.

Project Title FRACSTIM/I: An Integrated Fracture Stimulation and Reservoir Flow and Transport Simulator
Project Type / Topic 1 Laboratory Call for Submission of Applications for Research, Development and Analysis of Geothermal Technologies
Project Type / Topic 2 Stimulation Prediction Modeling
Project Description A key assumption associated with reservoir creation/stimulation, as with Enhanced Geothermal Systems, is that sufficient rock volumes can be hydraulically fractured via both tensile and shear failure and, more importantly, by reactivation of naturally existing fractures (by shearing). However, the knowledge base for hydraulic stimulation of geothermal systems remains limited. Modeling of fracture stimulation techniques for geothermal systems is an immature technology. The advancement of EGS greatly depends on increased understanding of the dynamics of the rock-fracture-fluid system and enhanced ability to reliably predict reservoir behavior under stimulation and fluid production. Current widely used subsurface hydro-thermal-mechanical simulation codes based on continuum mechanics (i.e., FEHM, TOUGH2 and STOMP) will never be able to explicitly model the intimate coupling between fluid pressure variations, the initiation and growth of new fractures, and reactivation of pre-existing fractures and weak zones (see Rutqvist6 for a comprehensive review). Continuum mechanics models are important for predicting the evolution of stress-strain fields during injection and where the potential fracturing could occur, but they cannot describe the dynamics of the fracture events, which are tightly coupled with hydro-thermal mechanical-chemical processes.
State Idaho
Objectives Develop a physics-based rock deformation and fracture propagation simulator by coupling a discrete element model (DEM) for fracturing with a continuum multiphase flow and heat transport model in order to predict the dynamics of fracture stimulation, fluid flow, rock deformation, and heat transport. The proposed model will have the ability to be validated, after stimulation, to geophysical and hydraulic monitoring data to verify results, improve targeting of production wells, and aid with operation optimization.
Awardees (Company / Institution) Idaho National Laboratory

Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-PS36-09GO99017
DOE Funding Level (total award amount) $977,000.00
Total Project Cost $977,000.00

Principal Investigator(s) Robert Podgorney

Targets / Milestones Work and tasks are designed around starting with first principle research in the areas of DEM/rock mechanics, acoustic emission (AE), and flow and transport property scaling. The complexity of the research will progressively increase by merging the individual tasks and increasing the size and scale of the work from small 2D proof-of-concepts simulations to site-scale fully 3D simulations for validation against field stimulation data. The milestones expected to achieve are 2D Coupled Model Completion, 3D Coupled Model Completion, and Finalization of Model/Peer Review, which will require a total of 11 tasks:

- 2D DEM Model Development
- Couple 2D DEM and Continuum Models
- DEM AE Signal Analysis
- Extend 2D DEM Model to 3D
- Couple 3D DEM with STOMP Code
- DEM and AE Model Integration
- 3D Fully Coupled Model Development
- Implement Model on HPC Clusters
- Test/Calibrate Model to Field Data
- Simulate Test EGS Site
- Reporting and Publishing

Location of Project Idaho Falls, ID

Funding Source American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
References EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs[1]


  1. EERE Geothermal Technologies Programs