Fluid systems used for servicing wellbores are usually a combination of particulate materials of varying specific gravity, particle size, aspect ratio, and reactivity, such as lightweight materials/weighting agents, clays, fibers, elastomers, polymers, resins, salts, and cementitious materials in water or oil media. These fluids are more commonly referred to as ‘complex fluids’ and often exhibit a high degree of non-Newtonian and time-dependent behavior. To more efficiently and expeditiously perform well operations, it is beneficial to accurately probe the rheology of fluids (and their admixtures) under downhole conditions.

A novel, helical-shaped stator-rotor assembly was designed and developed to work around measurement errors arising from sample inhomogeneity, particle separation, wall slip, and coring-related issues with commonly used geometries, such as those of a bob/sleeve and vane. The rotor blade arrangement is a double helix with cut flights, whereas the stator unit has blades that are manufactured by parting a coaxial double helix offset to the envelope of the rotor. Constant relative separation between the stator blades and rotor vanes is maintained in all planes to create shear geometries that enhance in-situ mixing. This was leveraged to conducting compatibility testing.

Torque and rev/min data was collected for eight different Newtonian fluids with viscosities ranging from 10 to 1000 cp. The power number and impeller Reynolds number were plotted to derive functional relationships between these quantities in the laminar and turbulent regimes. Various complex fluids, including fracturing gels, viscoelastic fluids, oil, water-based muds, spacers, and cement slurries were tested on the helical mixer, a triangular impeller, and Couette geometries for comparative mathematical modeling.

A unified algorithm and data analysis protocol featuring the four-parameter generalized Herschel Bulkley model is presented to derive rheograms and yield stress. A comparison of experimental results with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations is also presented.

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