STAR-CCM+ Simulations of In-Situ Thermal Treatment of Oil-Shale

One of the many research areas at the University of Utah Institute for Clean and Secure Energy is to assist in the commercial utilization of the vast energy stored in domestic oil shale and oil sands resources.

We are exploring in-situ thermal treatment technologies of oil shale development because of their potential for reducing environmental footprints. We are taking the novel approach of applying High Performance Computing (HPC) using STAR-CCM+ and Validation and Uncertainty Quantification (V/UQ) to perform Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) based simulations to quantitatively predict performance of in-situ thermal heating process of oil shale. We are closely working with American Shale Oil (AMSO) corporation and performing simulations of their pilot process located in Rifle, CO.

In many oil shale applications, the rate limiting step is the rate of heat transfer in the thermal treatment process. Using HPC STAR-CCM+ simulations, we are able to monitor the temperature evolution and distribution inside the formation and quantify uncertainties associated with thermal diffusion for their heater test.

Michal Hradisky
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University of Utah