Modeling and scale-bridging using machine learning: nanoconfinement effects in porous media

N Lubbers and A Agarwal and Y Chen and S Son and M Mehana and QJ Kang and S Karra and C Junghans and TC Germann and HS Viswanathan, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 10, 13312 (2020).

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-69661-0

Fine-scale models that represent first-principles physics are challenging to represent at larger scales of interest in many application areas. In nanoporous media such as tight-shale formations, where the typical pore size is less than 50 nm, confinement effects play a significant role in how fluids behave. At these scales, fluids are under confinement, affecting key properties such as density, viscosity, adsorption, etc. Pore-scale Lattice Boltzmann Methods (LBM) can simulate flow in complex pore structures relevant to predicting hydrocarbon production, but must be corrected to account for confinement effects. Molecular dynamics (MD) can model confinement effects but is computationally expensive in comparison. The hurdle to bridging MD with LBM is the computational expense of MD simulations needed to perform this correction. Here, we build a Machine Learning (ML) surrogate model that captures adsorption effects across a wide range of parameter space and bridges the MD and LBM scales using a relatively small number of MD calculations. The model computes upscaled adsorption parameters across varying density, temperature, and pore width. The ML model is 7 orders of magnitude faster than brute force MD. This workflow is agnostic to the physical system and could be generalized to further scale-bridging applications.

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