Effective proppant placement during hydraulic fracturing is essential to obtain maximum stimulation effectiveness. Understanding proppant placement requires the understanding of the time and space dependent dynamics of proppant motion in fluids, which include the phenomena of proppant transport, bridging, settling, and resuspension. This paper proposes a laboratory test method that can be used to investigate any aspect of proppant dynamics in a variety of channel configurations and fracturing fluids. 3D printing technology is used to rapidly manufacture channel flow devices of various dimensions. After a 3D printer is available, such manufacturing is extremely inexpensive with rapid turn-around times. These channels, in conjunction with laboratory scale pumps and blenders, are used to investigate proppant transport and bridging, settling, and resuspension in various fracturing fluids. Several different channel configurations, ranging from uniform width to uniform tapered, are used to investigate the dynamics of small and large diameter proppants with fluids ranging from water to linear gels. The results from these experiments are compared with numerical models for validation, and in some cases, calibration of model inputs, that can ultimately lead to improved fracturing treatment design and understanding. In addition, the paper provides a comparison to existing data (Patankar et al. 2002) to validate settling and resuspension models.

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