Fractional flow formulations of the multi-phase flow equations exhibit several attractive attributes for numerical simulations. The governing equations are a saturation equation having an advection diffusion form, for which characteristic methods are suited, and a global pressure equation whose form is elliptic. The fractional flow approach to the governing equations is compared with other approaches and the implication of equation form for numerical methods discussed. The fractional flow equations are solved with a modified method of characteristics for the saturation equation and a finite element method for the pressure equation. An iterative algorithm for determination of the general boundary conditions is implemented. Comparisons are made with a numerical method based on the two-pressure formulation of the governing equations. While the fractional flow approach is attractive for model problems, the performance of numerical methods based on these equations is relatively poor when the method is applied to general boundary conditions. We expect similar difficulties with the fractional flow approach for more general problems involving heterogenous material properties and multiple spatial dimensions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Water Science and Technology
- Fractional flow
- Multi-phase fluid flow
- Numerical methods