Production and Storage Aspects of Fabricated Core Rocks

The discovery of a large accumulations of natural gas in the Eastern Med, including Cyprus’ Aphrodite and Glaucus fields, calls for a better understanding of rocks mechanics, natural gas production and storage. Advances in imaging modalities have made it possible to visualise micrometre and nanometre structures that either occur naturally or are synthesised. From a materials perspective fluid dynamic and thermodynamic behaviour differ significantly at these scales from the bulk level. More specifically, it is important to be able to create complex structures at the micrometre & the nanometre scale which are reproducible permitting the systematic study of fluid behaviour. Leveraging on state-of-the-art technologies, such as, (micro-)CT scanning and additive manufacturing, the FabRocks project aims to expand the prevailing know-how by broadening the envelope of understanding of natural gas production and storage. Advances in micro-scale resolution 3D printing offer a unique opportunity to probe this possibility.

Figure1. Flowchart displaying a 3D rock core sample and the comparison of numerical and fabricated core storage and production gas findings.

In this project, a micro-tomography image dataset will be used to reconstruct a high-resolution digital rock 3D models of Miocene (carbonate) and sandstone rocks as illustrated in Figure 1. Moreover, a RAISE 3D pro 3 plus (Figure 2) will be used to re-create different high resolution rock prototypes (down to 10 microns) with various pore geometries, pore throats and tortuous channels which resemble oil and gas bearing rocks. Different kinds of filaments will be utilised, such as, PLA, PETG, and PVA (Figure 3). Additionally, sandstone and carbonate rocks’ attributes and parameters such as porosity, permeability, fluid flow, fluid storage and transport will be tested at the University of Nicosia’s Oil and Gas Engineering lab using a Hassler cell permeameter and a helium porosimeter.

Figure 2. The 3D Raise pro 3+ printer.

Overall, focusing on these properties, utilising additive fabrication, and developing computational models of the rocks will help identify and develop geometries of sandstones and carbonates pores with enhanced production and storage characteristics. Various other applications comprise examining water storage, CO2 sequestration, hydrogen and battery electrolyte storage.

Figure 3. Different kinds of filament, such as, PLA, PETG, and PVA spools.

Research team: Ms Jumana Sharanik, Dr Constantinos Hadjistassou


We are grateful to the Cyprus’ Research and Innovation Foundation and the University of Nicosia for their financial support.  

Related material:

Video displaying the process of creating a 3D rock core from digital rock scans.

We are also grateful to Ayios Therissos Medical Diagnostic & Radiological Center for scanning some of our rock samples.