The mechanics of filtration are described by a theoretical-empirical nonlinear diffusion equation which, under certain circumstances, may be linearized and then solved explicitly.For filtration under static conditions linearization leads to a boundary value problem analogous to a heat flow problem with a known explicit solution. The corresponding solution for static filtration is compared with published experimental data.Under dynamic conditions filtration takes place in three successive stages. During each of these the rate of filtration and/or the thickness of the filter cake are different functions of the filtration time. The proposed mechanism explains the observed high resistance of dynamically deposited filter cakes against erosion and also the connection between filtration rate and viscosity of the drilling fluidSeveral of the quantities governing dynamic filtration have no counterpart in the static filtration mechanism. The static filtration rate is, therefore, not a reliable measure for the dynamic rate and vice versa.


Filtration under simulated borehole conditions, i.e., either from a static suspension or from a suspension flowing parallel to the filter cake (dynamic filtration), has been the subject of several laboratory studies. This experimental and theoretical work showed that many aspects of the filtration mechanism cannot be explained by an elementary filtration theory based on the assumption that the filter cake is incompressible. For a more satisfactory theory compressibility should be taken into account. This has been done, at least to some extent, in the filtration theory developed for the chemical industry. Surveying the literature (see Ref. 8 for a bibliography) it becomes apparent that, although several properties of filter cakes deposited from many different suspensions have been measured, including compressibility, the filtration equations are essentially empirical in nature. No attempt has been made, for instance, to develop filtration theory along the lines of consolidation theory. This theory, upon which a highly successful development in soil mechanics rests, would appear to be an excellent starting point for a filtration theory since the compressibility concept is an essential part of it. As we will use this theory in the following development it is well to state the four assumptions on which it is based:

  1. The fluid flow through a compressible porous medium is governed by Darcy's law.

  2. The rate of change in fluid content of an element of the porous medium is proportional to the rate of change of solid pressure between the particles.

  3. The solid particles are incompressible within the range of pressures considered.

  4. The total pressure on a surface normal to the line of flow is equal to the sum of the fluid pressure and the pressure between the particles (solid pressure) at that surface.

To calculate the rate of filtration and other quantities of interest it is necessary to know the filter cake compressibility and the permeability as a function of the solid pressure. It has not been possible to calculate these functions from theoretical considerations and they will therefore be introduced in this paper as empirical expressions. Both are determined in a compression cell where the cake is subjected to a mechanical load. Permeability and compressibility are measured after the solid pressure has stabilized, i.e., after the excess fluid pressure has been dissipated and the uniform pressure is transmitted entirely by the solids.The permeability and compressibility thus determined are not the same as during filtration in the borehole, under either static or dynamic conditions, because then, due to frictional drag, the solid pressure and hence also the permeability and compressibility vary along a line normal to the direction of the mean flow and can only be defined locally.


As the filter cake in the borehole is thin compared to the radius of the hole the filtration may be considered as linear. Taking the x-axis normal to the wall, with its origin at the formation, we have, according to Darcy's law,



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