Smooth Implicit Hybrid Upwinding for Compositional Multiphase Flow in Porous Media

Sebastian B. M. Bosma, Francois P. Hamon, Brad T. Mallison, Hamdi A. Tchelepi

In subsurface multiphase flow simulations, poor nonlinear solver performance is a significant runtime sink. The system of fully implicit mass balance equations is highly nonlinear and often difficult to solve for the nonlinear solver, generally Newton(-Raphson). Strong nonlinearities can cause Newton iterations to converge very slowly. This frequently results in time step cuts, leading to computationally expensive simulations. Much literature has looked into how to improve the nonlinear solver through enhancements or safeguarding updates. In this work, we take a different approach; we aim to improve convergence with a smoother finite volume discretization scheme which is more suitable for the Newton solver. Building on recent work, we propose a novel total velocity hybrid upwinding scheme with weighted average flow mobilities (WA-HU TV) that is unconditionally monotone and extends to compositional multiphase simulations. Analyzing the solution space of a one-cell problem, we demonstrate the improved properties of the scheme and explain how it leverages the advantages of both phase potential upwinding and arithmetic averaging. This results in a flow subproblem that is smooth with respect to changes in the sign of phase fluxes, and is well-behaved when phase velocities are large or when co-current viscous forces dominate. Additionally, we propose a WA-HU scheme with a total mass (WA-HU TM) formulation that includes phase densities in the weighted averaging. The proposed WA-HU TV consistently outperforms existing schemes, yielding benefits from 5\% to over 50\% reduction in nonlinear iterations. The WA-HU TM scheme also shows promising results; in some cases leading to even more efficiency. However, WA-HU TM can occasionally also lead to convergence issues. Overall, based on the current results, we recommend the adoption of the WA-HU TV scheme as it is highly efficient and robust.

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