STAR-CCM+® HPC Simulations of Different Well Spacing & Arrangement for In-situ Thermal Treatment of Oil Shale

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

One of the many missions of the Institute for Clean and Secure Energy at the University of Utah is to pursue research in assisting the commercial utilization of the vast energy stored in domestic oil shale and oil sand resources. We apply High Performance Computing (HPC) using STAR-CCM+ to perform simulations to explore in-situ thermal treatment of oil shale.

In many oil shale applications the rate-limiting step is the rate of heat transfer during the thermal treatment process. Using the HPC capabilities of STAR-CCM+ we are able to resolve the detailed resource stratigraphy as well as heat transfer on the order of years to provide a representation of in-situ retorting process for realistically sized regions. Using STAR-CCM+ we model the entire retort geometry and therefore do not need to make simplifying assumptions which could lead to misleading results.

Using STAR-CCM+ coupled with HPC, we also perform design exploration of well spacing and well arrangement, which play a crucial role in achieving optimal heat transfer throughout the formation, maximizing the oil yield and minimizing capital costs. By modeling the entire system we are able to provide an estimate of the heat transfer in the retorting region, the amount of heat required to reach temperatures necessary to produce oil as well as the associated heat losses, understanding of which plays a critical role in the economic analysis.

Author Company: 
University of Utah
Author Name: 
Michal Hradisky