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Lead author Arcady Dyskin

SmARt PROPPAnt COnCEPt fOR mOnitORinG HyDRAuliC fRACtuRES

A.V. Dyskin, E. Pasternak, G. Sevel and R. Cardell-Oliver University of Western Australia 35 Stirling Hwy Crawley WA 6009 arcady@civil.uwa.edu.au elena@mech.uwa.edu.au gregsevel@iinet.net.au rachel.cardell-oliver@uwa.edu.au

AbStrACt
Monitoring subsurface fluid flow is important in mapping hydraulic fractures and identifying flow channels in reservoirs. A new monitoring technique is proposed whereby fluid is injected with smart actuators capable of organising their pulses to create a combined output with a higher proportion of energy at low frequencies. Ideally, the best results occur when actuators are sequentialised so each next actuator emits its pulse immediately after the previous actuator. The low frequency energy content achieved using sequentialisation is much higher than that achieved with a random distribution of pulses, but is relatively insensitive to practical errors in scheduling and irregular attenuations of amplitudes. Simulations show that actuators can be self-organised into a sequential state by monitoring other actuators pulses using the algorithm presented in this paper.

kEyWordS
Wave attenuation, smart actuators, low frequency energy content, screamers, energy bunching, self-organisation, sequentialisation.

IntrodUCtIon
Remote detection and monitoring of deep fluid flow in the Earths crust are necessary in a number of applications, first of all for the mapping of hydraulic fractures in petroleum reservoir stimulation and identifying flow channels in reservoirs. The use of standard seismic methods is limited by the fact that the flow channels and fractures are quite thin and can only be detected by relatively short waves that suffer from considerable attenuation by the bulk of the rock mass through which they propagate. Other methods,

like pressure monitoring (e.g.,Valk and Economides, 1995) and tiltmeter analysis (Lecampion et al, 2005), though specific to hydraulic fractures, do not provide sufficient information. An interesting approach to mapping hydraulic fractures was proposed by Schlumberger (Willberg, 2006) based on generating the seismic waves from within the fluid itself using the so-called noisy proppant technique. In this method explosives are floated into the fracture and explode to announce their position to surface-mounted receivers. While this technique improves on the other methods by eliminating the need for complicated data de-convolution, reducing the risk of false hits and improving control of the monitoring process, its major drawback (notwithstanding its applicability being limited to man-made fractures and the safety concerns associated with handling explosives) is that the explosives presently available do not have the power to create p-waves capable of propagating to the surface in all but the most shallow of fractures. This is related to the fact that the separate proppant particles predominately emit high frequency (short) waves readily attenuated by the rock such that only a very small portion of the explosion energy is channelled to the long waves capable of reaching the surface. Here we propose the smart proppant technique, in which the explosives are replaced by pulse-emitting particles (which we term screamers) capable of synchronising themselves to create interference that increases the long wave energy content of their combined output. This communication presents the proof-of-concept for the possibility of attaining the long wave emission in principle without dwelling on the particulars of screamer design. We first determine the required synchronisation protocol and demonstrate its robustness to the random variations of the pulse amplitude and then present the synchronising algorithm and demonstrate, by computer simulations, its robustness with respect to missing or malfunctioning particles.

nEtWorkIng UltrASonIC ACtUAtorS


We propose smart proppant fracture monitoring to be performed by injecting miniature ultrasonic actuators, termed screamers, into the hydraulic fracture. These screamers are assumed to be designed to communicate with each other by listening for the very pulses they emit in the process of their operation. The proposed networking algorithm will make sure that through this communication, APPEA Journal 2011527

A.V. Dyskin, E. Pasternak, G. Sevel and R. Cardell-Oliver the screamers will be able to organise their screams in such a manner that together they produce an output that is more capable of propagating through the rock formation to an array of surface receivers that track their motion. Many heterogeneous materials attenuate short waves more effectively than long waves. For instance, in the case of rock formations, the power that an actuator requires to induce oscillations with a certain minimum amplitude Alimit at a distance r is (Willberg, 2006): (1) where l is the wave length, c is the wave velocity, r is the rock density and Q is a factor defined by the type of rock and its state (e.g., the extent of saturation).The relationship between the dominant frequency of the pulse emitted by an actuator f and the propagation range r (2) shows that as the frequency is lowered, the propagation range is increased at an increasing rate. It has been demonstrated experimentally (Chen et al, 1990) that, for rock formations, frequencies between 40 and 700 Hz are optimal. Further, digital geophones that are now available are capable of receiving up to frequencies of 800 Hz (Guilin et al, 2009). For the purposes of the present analysis we will use this bandwidth. Since the screamers used in this system must be of a sufficiently small size that they can move through hydraulic fractures or fluid channels, they must be no larger than 5 mm in diameter. Given that actuators emit best at wave lengths up to four times their size and that the average velocity of pressure waves in a fluid is 1,400 ms-1 (Zaitsev et al, 2009) these screamers will emit at a frequency of 7104 Hz. So to reduce this frequency to the desired range of 40700 Hz energy must be channelled to frequencies at least two orders of magnitude below the frequency of a single pulse. Causing screamers to emit in groups will cause the emissions of each group to be treated as though they came from a single point. As this will lower the resolution of the fracture map they provide, it is important that the screamers travel in small, compact groups. These groups are termed clouds, and are expected to be separated from each other by having screamers emit at a frequency unique to their cloud. Additionally, clouds will likely be injected separately into the stream. In this analysis we neglect the motion of screamers with the fluid. This can be justified by estimating the fluid flow velocity in the geological medium. For hydrogeological situations, the upper estimate for the velocity of fluid flow can be obtained assuming an average fluid viscosity of 10-3 Pa s (water), maximum permeability of 0.001 cm2, which corresponds to the heavily fractured rocks (Bear, 1972) and the maximum pressure gradient of 104 Pa/m (hydrostatic limit). Then Darcys law shows the fluid flow velocity to be 1 m/s, which is three orders of magnitude 528APPEA Journal 2011 lower than the wave velocity in fluids and rocks. (Wave velocities in fluids exceed 1,000 m/s (Benenson et al, 2001; wave velocities in rocks are usually higher.) In the case of hydraulic fracturing, the upper estimate for the fluid velocity can be obtained as 0.1 m/s by taking the width of each of two wings of the fracture as 50 m, the aperture as 2 cm and the injection rate of fracturing fluid as 10 m3/min (Valk and Economides, 1995) and neglecting the fluid loss in rocks. This bound is even lower than that in the hydrogeological case. We now proceed with this idea and determine the mode of organisation at which the vibration energy is best channelled to the low frequencies.

IdEAl orgAnISAtIonAl PArAdIgm


In this conceptual analysis, screams are approximated by simple square waves and the network of screamers (a group of screamers whose screams are organised in a specific way) is identified as being characterised by four controlling parameters: 1. the number of screamers, K + 1; 2. the scream amplitude, A; 3. scream (pulse) duration, 2t ; and, 4. the separation time between screams, Dt. We normalise the time variable by, the scream half period t. Subsequently, the scream half period t becomes equal to 1. All the time parameters in the models are then also normalised by the half period, such that for instance separations between screams are represented in terms of t. Similarly, the constant at this stage, amplitudes of a scream are set to such that the resulting signal amplitude is normalised by A. A plot of scream amplitude against time is termed a scream profile (Fig. 1). For K +1 screamers emitting square pulses of duration 2t with amplitudes Ak in a sequence with time delays Dtk; k =1..K, we determine the power spectrum as

(3) The normalising factor (K + 1)-2 is introduced to enable comparisons for different numbers of screamers. Increasing the number of screamers K is shown to shift the curve toward the origin, implying a higher proportion of energy is channelled to the lower frequencies (Fig. 2).

figure 1. A simple scream profile normalised by t along the x-axis and by A along the y-axis with K=1, Dt=6t.

Smart proppant concept for monitoring hydraulic fractures

figure 2. the resulting power spectra for systems with 35 screamers with time delays varying from 2t to 12t. As the scream separation deviates from the special case of the pulse duration Dt = 2t the shape of the power spectra changes. Increasing the separation similarly shifts the spectrum toward the origin but also introduces high frequency peaks that counteract the bunching achieved by the spectrum shift, Fig. 2. We quantify the bunching by introducing a cut-off frequency wth and determining the fraction of total energy that is channelled to frequencies below the cut-off, E(wth). Subsequently, we identify the increase of the portion of energy at low frequencies as an increase in the performance of organised screamers. For the analysis below we choose the thresholds of 3% and 1% of the main frequency of a single screamer, 2p/t, denoted w0.03 and w0.01 respectively. The results of the analysis for the 3% threshold are shown in Figure 3. Analysing the impact of time delays highlights the dominance of the delay, Dt = 2t (Fig. 3). At a time delay of 0, when all of the screamers are perfectly synchronised, the performance is extremely poor and approaches a bunching of 0. As the delay is increased to t, the performance improves in a somewhat linear manner. Once past a delay of t the performance increase slows significantly but starts to rise again until the performance peaks at a delay time of 2t. For further increases in the time delay, the performance decays at a decreasing rate for all K, approaching the performance of a single screamer. A separation of Dt = 2t is thus the optimal separation, and corresponds to the case when each next screamer begins screaming when the previous scream finishes. This organisational paradigm is termed sequentialisation and achieving sequentialisation essentially results in one long scream being output with length equal to 2K + 2 (Fig. 4). It is worth noting that the performance at a separation of t increases significantly as the number of screamers is increased. This results in a weaker performance decay as the separation is reduced below 2t than if it were to be increased by a similar amount for high values of K (Fig. 3). For a system with more than 100 screamers in a cloud, erring on the side of screaming too early seems less detrimental to performance than screaming too late. For example, with K = 1,000, the bunching below 1% of the input frequency is 93:9% for Dt = t , 96:7% for Dt = 2t and 65:3% for Dt = 3t . figure 3. the impact of time delay on the proportion of energy below 3% of the pulse frequency for different numbers of screamers. the straight horizontal line refers to a single screamer.

figure 4. An ideal time profile for K = 3 starting at t = -2t. Increasing the number of screamers emitting in a given regular sequence invariably results in improved performance. As K is increased (for time delays between 2t and 9t), the bunching also increases, however at a decreasing rate (Fig. 5). At some point in each series, the energy bunching reaches a level of saturation beyond which very little performance increase is achieved, even for significant increases in the number of screamers. This saturation point comes earlier as the separation increases, with the optimal distribution, as shown in Figure 6, being Dt = 2t.

SEnSItIvIty to tHE ErrorS In SEqUEntIAlISAtIon


The results of the previous analysis indicate that, in the case of regularly separated screams when the delay time is not optimal, it is preferable to scream early rather than late. Now we investigate the effect of random variations in the delay time. To this end we introduce independent random variations to the time delays, uniformly distributed , , for different values of average within delay time and eD ranging from 0 to 2t (Fig. 6). For a system with scheduling error randomly distributed between 0.4t and 1.2t , a base time delay of 1.8t or 1.7t slightly outperforms a system with the optimal separation of 2t; however, the performance increase is minor, which suggests that this is not an important heuristic. More generally, the performance loss over the range of scheduling APPEA Journal 2011529

A.V. Dyskin, E. Pasternak, G. Sevel and R. Cardell-Oliver

figure 5. the influence of K on the proportion of energy below a cut-off frequency of 3% for various Dt.

figure 7. Energy bunching resulting from 300 screamers separated by Dt = 2t, with amplitudes that normally and independently vary with a standard deviation eA from a mean of 1. Error bars show the resulting computational standard deviation either side of the mean bunching.

figure 8. Plot of the energy bunching resulting from randomly and uniformly distributed screams. figure 6. Energy bunching resulting from 300 screamers with time delays uniformly and independently distributed within , where eD is the scheduling error. Error bars show the resulting computational standard deviation either side of the mean bunching. errors in Figure 6 is quite low. This is especially important when the sequentialisation is achieved through screamer communication (see the proposed screamers design below). In this case the randomness of the screamers, locations and the finite velocity of wave propagation are the main sources of variations in the delay times. The performance loss is at most 25% for errors in delay times of up to 2t (Fig. 6). In a real environment, the pulses emitted by screamers will be subject to geometrical and physical attenuation, introducing variations into the pulse amplitudes as registered by an observer. As the positions of the screamers are deemed to be random and the proposed sequentialisation algorithm makes no note of their locations, we can assume that the amplitude variations are also random. To estimate the effect of random amplitude variations on the performance, we simulated screams with time delays of Dt = 2t and with amplitudes randomly and normally distributed with a standard deviation of eA from a mean of 1. The results are shown in Figure 7. It is seen that even for the extreme case of eA = 1/3 (when, according to the 3s rule, the amplitudes, in their majority, are still positive ranging from 0 to 2) the performance loss is only 4%. For higher values of eA the corresponding plot on Figure 8 was 530APPEA Journal 2011 produced by setting the negative scream amplitude to zero. (In effect we use the truncated normal distribution.) The obtained results have to be compared with a system that operates with random scream times, a case that corresponds closely to the noisy proppant system. Figure 8 shows that in this case the performance is significantly worse: at least 1,000 screamers are required such that random scream generation matches the performance of 50 sequentialised screamers. Thus the proposed smart proppant has a capacity to outperform the noise proppant 20 times. Furthermore, in the case of random pulse emission (noisy proppant) the number of screamers required for adequate performance is unacceptably high.The proposed concept allows lowering the required number of screams per period, which substantially lessens the power requirements of the screamers. Additionally, lowering the number of screams required to achieve an adequate signal strength means that clouds of screamers can be much smaller, allowing a higher resolution image of the fracture to be mapped. According to Figure 6, a scheduling error of up to 2t gives acceptable performance. Thus we define a cloud as a group of screamers situated at such distances from each other that the time delay associated with the finite velocity of wave propagation does not exceed 2t. As we assumed that the optimal wave length is 4d, d being the screamer dimension, the frequency is f = c/(4d), where c is the wave velocity. Then during the pulse duration of 2t = 2/f = 8d/c the wave will travel the distance of eight

Smart proppant concept for monitoring hydraulic fractures screamer dimensions. Therefore a cloud is defined as a sphere (disk for 2D channels such as fractures) of radius 4d. This gives us a maximum of about 50 screamers in 2D and 250 screamers in 3D. In what follows we will consider only such clouds.

AlgorItHm for SEqUEntIAlISIng SCrEAmErS


The above analysis shows the importance of sequentialising screamers close to the time delay of 2t such that their combined signal closely resembles one long pulse. When the screamers are in the stream, no independent controlling device is feasible, so the screamers should possess enough intelligence to organise themselves. To achieve this, each screamer must receive information on the states of all other screamers. Furthermore, the system of screamers should be able to collectively counteract the impact of lost screamers and the impact of scheduling errors. Given that electromagnetic waves could not be used for communication in water, the most natural and economical way to achieve this would be to use the emitted screams themselves as the sources of information about the state of each screamer. To accomplish this, an algorithm is required that could sequentialise the screamers. To this end we propose a CountUp algorithm. The CountUp algorithm requires that screamers maintain two state variables: n, which represents the time remaining until the screamer screams (in units 2t ); and CU, a secondary counter. Initially n is set to be equal to the order number of the screamer. As time increases, the n value decreases linearly with time until it reaches 0, signifying that the screamer should begin screaming. Screaming lasts 2t, after which time the n value of the screamer is reset to a maximum value, which is the total number of screamers in the system. If at any stage a screamer notices that no other screamers are emitting (for instance due to malfunction or loss of one or more screamers), it begins to count up simultaneously with CU at a given fast rate (for our simulations 10 times the rate of the first counter). When CU is greater than or equal to n for a given screamer, and no other screamer has yet emitted, it signifies that the screamer in question is next in line and should begin screaming immediately, setting n to 0 (Fig. 9).Thus CU gives screamers with lower main counter numbers a chance to scream first, and if no screamer is active before the given screamer, it knows that it must be next in line.

figure 9. operation of counters in the CountUp algorithm for a system of two screamers.

figure 10. Proportion of energy below a cutoff frequency of 1% at different iterations of the simulation for systems with varying numbers of screamers. number of screamers, the CountUp algorithm is capable of improving performance by approaching sequentialisation; however, if there are any screamers that are synchronised to within a time step, they will not separate and will therefore prevent the system from achieving perfect sequentialisation. Of chief interest is the relationship between bunching and time for given input parameters, specifically the time taken for the system to channel an adequate proportion of energy below a given frequency. For clarity, the simulation is broken into iterations, which are defined as being completed after the screamer with the highest order number at the start of the simulation screams. Starting from a random numbering of screamers, the proportion of energy below a defined cutoff frequency increases rapidly at first (Fig. 10). The achievement of perfect sequentialisation, or as near to perfect as the initial distribution will allow, is significantly slower. For a system with 300 screamers, 80% bunching below w0.01 is achieved in two iterations, whereas 90% bunching takes 16 (Fig. 10). Given that, in practice, external factors such as motion will interfere with the process, the network will likely be prevented from ever reaching optimal APPEA Journal 2011531

ComPUtEr SImUlAtIon of SCrEAmEr SEqUEntIAlISIng


To evaluate the workability and efficiency of the proposed algorithm, computer simulations were performed for systems with random uniformly distributed initial scream times thus simulating the effect of the loss of some screamers. Each simulation was conducted 1,000 times with different realisations of the initial scream times and the mean bunching and standard deviation thereof were determined. The simulations (Fig. 10) show that, for any

A.V. Dyskin, E. Pasternak, G. Sevel and R. Cardell-Oliver scheduling but must nevertheless swiftly create a signal if not perfect but of transmittable quality. Simulations show that, for a system with more than 300 screamers, the output will have more than 90% of its energy channelled to frequencies below 1% of the dominant frequency of a screamer. Further increases in the number of screamers will result in continued improvement at a deteriorating rate such that a system containing 1,000 screamers will output with 95% of the energy below a cutoff frequency of 1% (Fig. 10). This illustrates the fact that increasing the size of the screamer network, even if possible, does not give marked performance improvement.Therefore, the most efficient use of screamers is in clustering them in small independent networks of 50300 screamers, while choosing the number of clusters on the basis of reaching the desired power of the resulting signal.

rEfErEnCES
BEAR, J., 1972Dynamics of Fluids in Porous Media. USA: Dover Publications. BENENSON, W., HARRIS, J., STOCKER, H. AND LUTZ, H., 2001Handbook of Physics. New York: Springer. CHEN, S., ZIMMERMAN, L.J., AND TUGNAIT, J.K., 1990Subsurface imaging using reversed vertical seismic profiling and crosshole tomographic methods. Geophysics, 55 (11), 1,47887. GUILIN, L., GAO, C. AND JUNYI, Z., 2009Analysis of geophone properties effects for land seismic data. Applied Geophysics, 6, 93101. LECAMPION, B., JEFREY, R. AND DETOURNAY, E., 2005Resolving the Geometry of Hydraulic Fractures from Tilt Measurements. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 162 (12), 2,43352. VALK, P. AND ECONOMIDES, M., 1995Hydraulic Fracture Mechanics. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd. WILLBERG, D., DESROCHES, J., BABOUR, K., GZARA, K. AND BESSON, C., 2006Mapping Fracture Dimensions Schlumberger Technology Corporation. United States Patent, Patent No. US 7,134,492 B2. ZAITSEV, V., DYSKIN, A.V., PASTERNAK, E. AND MATVEEV, L., 2009Microstructure-induced giant elastic nonlinearity of threshold origin: Mechanism and experimental demonstration. Europhysics Letters, EPL 86, 44005.

ConClUSIon
When a system of high frequency actuators (screamers) is sequentialised such that the next screamer starts screaming right after the previous screamer finishes, the output energy can be channelled to frequencies considerably lower than the dominant frequency of a single screamer. Clearly, increasing the number of screamers increases the amount of energy that can be channelled to these low frequencies. (However a certain amount of energy still goes into higher frequencies.) We found by direct computer simulations that random (and independent) errors in screaming schedules and pulse amplitudes do not have a significantly adverse effect on the energy channelled to low frequencies. This suggests that the concept can be used in stream monitoring to ensure that small high frequency actuators collectively produce a desired low frequency signal that is detectable at large distances.The low frequency energy content of the produced signal is independent of possible attenuations caused by the environment. The sequentialisation can be achieved using a proposed CountUp algorithm that organises the screamers by having them monitoring their own pulse emissions. This is accomplished by equipping each screamer with a listening device and two counters, one that is initially set to the screamers number and is reduced constantly with time and another that increases when an interruption in the sequence of screams is detected. Through using these counters, the screamer determines the moment when (and if) it has to step in. Computer simulations showed that this algorithm sequentialises the screamers even in the presence of initial gaps in the schedule (due to the loss of some screamers). Thus, the analysis reported signifies a new method of flow and, in particular, hydraulic fracture monitoring based on smart high frequency miniature actuators.

ACknoWlEdgEmEnt
AVD and EP acknowledge financial support through the ARC Discovery grants DP0988449 and DP0771044 (AVD). EP acknowledges the financial support of the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics and the School of Mechanical Engineering Grant, UWA (2008). 532APPEA Journal 2011

Smart proppant concept for monitoring hydraulic fractures

tHE AutHORS
Arcady Dyskin is a Winthrop Professor at School of Civil and resource Engineering. Arcady graduated in 1975 from moscow oil and gas Institute, and in 1980 from moscow State University. In 1986 he obtained Phd in mechanics of Solids from the Institute for Problems in mechanics, USSr Academy of Sciences. In 1991 he joined the department of Civil Engineering of the University of Western Australia. His areas of expertise include topological interlocking, rock mechanics, fracture mechanics, multiscale modelling and fluid flow monitoring. Elena Pasternak is a professor at the School of mechanical and Chemical Engineering of the University of Western Australia. She received Phd in 2002 from the University of Western Australia. She was a Humboldt fellow at technical University of Clausthal, germany and an Australian Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Western Australia. Her research interests include mechanics of generalised continua, fracture mechanics, topological interlocking and fluid flow monitoring. Greg Sevel graduated from the University of Western Australia in 2009 with bachelors degrees in engineering (hons) and computer science. He is now working in the oil and gas industry for baker Hughes.

Rachel Cardell-Oliver is a Professor in the School of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Western Australia. She has a Phd in protocol verification from the University of Cambridge, Uk and a masters in distributed systems from the University of Western Australia. Her research interests include designing and building wireless sensor networks,query languages and protocols for sensor networks, formal methods for distributed systems, software engineering, software testing and computing education. member: IEEE and the Association for Computing machinery (ACm).

APPEA Journal 2011533

A.V. Dyskin, E. Pasternak, G. Sevel and R. Cardell-Oliver

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