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Numerical modelling of proppant transport in hydraulic fractures.

Suri, Yatin; Islam, Sheikh Zahidul; Hossain, Mamdud



The distribution of proppant injected in hydraulic fractures significantly affects the fracture conductivity and well performance. The proppant transport in thin fracturing fluid used during hydraulic fracturing in the unconventional reservoirs is considerably different from fracturing fluids in the conventional reservoir due to the very low viscosity and quick deposition of the proppants. This paper presents the development of a three-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modelling technique for the prediction of proppant-fluid multiphase flow in hydraulic fractures. The proposed model also simulates the fluid leak-off behaviour from the fracture wall. The Euler-Granular and CFD-Discrete Element Method (CFD-DEM) multiphase modelling approach has been applied, and the equations defining the fluid-proppant and inter-proppant interaction have been solved using the finite volume technique. The proppant transport in hydraulic fractures has been studied comprehensively, and the computational modelling results of proppant distribution and other flow properties are in good agreement with the published experimental study. The parametric study is performed to investigate the effect of variation in proppant size, fluid viscosity and fracture width on the proppant transport. Smaller proppants can be injected early, followed by larger proppants to maintain high propping efficiency. This study has enhanced the understanding of the complex flow phenomenon between proppant and fracturing fluid and can play a vital role in hydraulic fracturing design.


SURI, Y., ISLAM, S.Z. and HOSSAIN, M. 2020. Numerical modelling of proppant transport in hydraulic fractures. Fluid dynamics and materials processing [online], 16(2), pages 297-337. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 16, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 21, 2020
Publication Date Apr 30, 2020
Deposit Date Apr 23, 2020
Publicly Available Date Apr 23, 2020
Journal Fluid dynamics and materials processing
Print ISSN 1555-256X
Electronic ISSN 1555-2578
Publisher Tech Science Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 2
Pages 297-337
Keywords Proppant transport; Hydraulic fracturing; Eulerian-granular model; Computational fluid dynamics; Discrete element method; Fluid leak-off
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