Particle Transport in Fractures: A Common Problem in Enhanced Geothermal Systems and Hydraulic Fractures

Saeed Salimzadeh*, James Kear, Hamid M. Nick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

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Particle transport within fractures is a common problem in hydraulic fractures and in Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). In hydraulic fractures, proppant is used to keep the fractures open after the hydraulic pressure is released. Proppant concentration alters the fracturing fluid properties including dynamic viscosity and density, affecting the hydraulic fracture shape and direction especially in vertical fractures. The distribution of proppant particles over the induced fracture is crucial in maintaining the hydraulic conductivity of a fracture. In this work, a three-dimensional finite element model has been developed to simulate particle transport in fractures. Hydraulic fractures are modelled discretely as surfaces in a 3D matrix. Hydraulic fracture propagation is defined within the Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics (LEFM) framework. Both proppant settlement and density flow are considered for movement of proppant particles in propagating vertical hydraulic fractures. The model also accounts for depth-increasing in-situ stresses. Results show that the downward movement of proppant encourages downward hydraulic fracture growth, while the depth- increasing in-situ stresses encourage the hydraulic fractures to grow upward.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings World Geothermal Congress 2020
Number of pages6
Publication date2020
Article number31045
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventWorld Geothermal Congress 2020 - Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 26 Apr 20202 May 2020


ConferenceWorld Geothermal Congress 2020


  • Proppant transport
  • Density-driven flow
  • Gravity settlement
  • Hydraulic fracturing

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