Enhancing Hydraulic Fracturing Productivity via Model-based Feedback Control
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This project will establish a systematic computational modeling and control framework for real-time model-based feedback control of the hydraulic fracturing process. The goal of this framework is to enhance productivity in low permeability oil reservoirs, while minimizing energy consumption and water usage. Despite advances in real-time measurement techniques, such as downhole pressure analysis and micro-seismic monitoring, there remains a lack of a systematic framework to enhance productivity in low permeability oil reservoirs. This gap is due to modeling and controller design challenges associated with moving boundaries arising from the hydraulic fracturing operations. The proposed research has the potential to lead to transformative advances in hydraulic fracturing and could be extended to other problems with similar challenges.A fundamental study is proposed to enable closed-loop operation of hydraulic fracturing for enhanced productivity in low permeability oil reservoirs by integrating the moving boundary aspects of hydraulic fracturing processes with computationally efficient model reduction, spatially varying parameter estimation, and model-based feedback control strategies. Specifically, the proposed research will devise methods to construct local in time reduced-order models of hydraulic fracturing, which are suitable for controller and state estimator designs, and real-time implementations. The models will predict the effect of controllable variables on key parameters that affect well performance. Based on these models, nonlinear model predictive control designs will be developed to produce practically implementable feedback control systems for enhanced productivity in low permeability oil reservoirs. A parameter estimation technique for solving the inverse problem of the spatially varying geological properties in the rock formation will also be developed. In addition to training graduate students, the principal investigator plans to pursue outreach activities to high-school students and teachers in high schools with large Hispanic student populations and develop workshops on the fundamentals of hydraulic fracturing. The research findings will be integrated into a new course based on applications of process systems engineering principles in hydraulic fracturing operations. A workshop on safety issues in hydraulic fracturing will be organized in collaboration with the Mary Kay O''Connor Process Safety Center at Texas A&M University with a mentoring component aimed at establishing interactions between Hispanic students and Texas A&M alumni from the oil and gas industry.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.