ABSTRACT

Three-dimensional (3-D) printing provides an opportunity to build lab-testable models of reservoir rocks from tomographic data. This study combines tomography and 3-D printing to reproduce a sample of the Fontainebleau sandstone at different magnifications to test how this workflow can help characterization of transport properties at multiple scales. For this sandstone, literature analysis has given a porosity of 11%, permeability of 455 md, mean pore throat radius of 15 μm, and a mean grain size of 250 μm. Digital rock analysis of tomographic data from the same sample yielded a porosity of 13%, a permeability of 251 md, and a mean pore throat radius of 15.2 μm. The 3-D printer available for this study was not able to reproduce the sample’s pore system at its original scale. Instead, models were 3-D printed at 5-fold, 10-fold, and 15-fold magnifications. Mercury porosimetry performed on these 3-D models revealed differences in porosity (28%–37%) compared to the literature (11%) and to digital calculations (12.7%). Mercury may have intruded the smallest matrix pores of the printing powder and led to a greater than 50% increase in measured porosity. However, the 3-D printed models’ pore throat size distribution (15 μm) and permeability (350–443 md) match both literature data and digital rock analysis. The powder-based 3-D printing method was only able to replicate parts of the pore system (permeability and pore throats) but not the pore bodies. Other 3-D printing methods, such as resin-based stereolithography and photopolymerization, may have the potential to reproduce reservoir rock porosity more accurately.

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