Experimental study on physical structure properties and anisotropic cleat permeability estimation on coal cores from China
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Knowledge of the natural structure properties of coal seams is essential for the coal bed methane (CBM) production because of their great influence on the inner flow characteristics and permeability features of hydrocarbons and water. In this paper, a series of laboratory tests, including nondestructive low-field nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray computed tomography (CT) and core tests were carried out to characterize the physical structure properties of coal. The pore size distribution, pore type, morphological features and three-dimensional rendering of coal cleat structures are presented. The permeability changes of 7 cylindrical coal cores investigated under a varying effective stress range (0–35Mpa) reveal that coal porosity decreased linearly and coal permeability declined exponentially with the rise of stress; while under higher stress conditions, the occurrence of internal crushing and mechanical damage will result in irreversible change for porosity and permeability. Through the comprehensive analysis based on linking permeability to porosity and CT result, a basic estimation on directional cleat permeability is also realized. This method provides a preliminary but satisfactory estimation for local directional cleat permeability, which reflects that both bedding and non-bedding direction permeability owns great heterogeneity for an individual sample; but face cleat permeability always found to be the largest, and the mean bedding plane permeability value is found usually 3.01–11.68 times lower than face and butt cleat permeability.
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