Various energy recovery, storage, conversion, and environmental operations may involve repetitive fluid injection and, thus, cyclic drainage-imbibition processes. We conducted an experimental study for which polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-based micromodels were fabricated with three different levels of pore-space heterogeneity (coefficient of variation, where COV = 0, 0.25, and 0.5) to represent consolidated and/or partially consolidated sandstones. A total of ten injection-withdrawal cycles were applied to each micromodel at two different flow rates (0.01 and 0.1 mL/min). The experimental results were analyzed in terms of flow morphology, sweep efficiency, residual saturation, the connection of fluids, and the pressure gradient. The pattern of the invasion and displacement of nonwetting fluid converged more readily in the homogeneous model (COV = 0) as the repetitive drainage-imbibition process continued. The overall sweep efficiency converged between 0.4 and 0.6 at all tested flow rates, regardless of different flow rates and COV in this study. In contrast, the effective sweep efficiency was observed to increase with higher COV at the lower flow rate, while that trend became the opposite at the higher flow rate. Similarly, the residual saturation of the nonwetting fluid was largest at COV = 0 for the lower flow rate, but it was the opposite for the higher flow rate case. However, the Minkowski functionals for the boundary length and connectedness of the nonwetting fluid remained quite constant during repetitive fluid flow. Implications of the study results for porous media-compressed air energy storage (PM-CAES) are discussed as a complementary analysis at the end of this manuscript.

Supplementary material: Figures S1 and S2 https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5276814.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Energy Geoscience Series collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/energy-geoscience-series

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