Determination of rock properties by low-frequency AC electrokinetics


  • David B. Pengra,

  • Sidney Xi Li,

  • Po-zen Wong


In brine-saturated rock the existence of a mobile space charge at the fluid/solid interface leads to the electrokinetic phenomena of electroosmotic pressure and streaming potential. The coupling coefficients of these electrokinetic effects, when combined with the conductivity of the brine-saturated rock, determine the brine permeability of rock exactly. A sensitive low-frequency AC technique has been used to measure electrokinetic response of a collection of eight rock and four glass bead samples saturated with NaCl brine as a function of salt concentration (fluid conductivity of 0.5 to 6.38 S/m); the response of four of the original 12 samples has also been measured as a function of temperature from 0° to 50°C. All data verify the predicted permeability relationship. Additionally, the frequency response of the electroosmotic pressure signal alone can also be used to determine the permeability, given knowledge of experimental parameters. The concentration and temperature dependence of electroosmosis and streaming potential is found to mostly conform to the predictions of a simple model based on the Helmholtz-Smoluchowski equation, the Stern model of the electrochemical double layer, and an elementary theory of ionic conduction.