Journal article

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X-ray microcomputed tomography (X-ray μ-CT) is a rapidly advancing technology that has been successfully employed to study flow phenomena in porous media. It offers an alternative approach to core scale experiments for the estimation of traditional petrophysical properties such as porosity and single-phase flow permeability. It can also be used to investigate properties that control multiphase flow such as rock wettability or mineral topology. In most applications, analyses are performed on segmented images obtained employing a specific processing pipeline on the greyscale images. The workflow leading to a segmented image is not straightforward or unique and, for most of the properties of interest, a ground truth is not available. For this reason, it is crucial to understand how image processing choices control properties estimation. In this work, we assess the sensitivity of porosity, permeability, specific surface area, in situ contact angle measurements, fluid–fluid interfacial curvature measurements and mineral composition to processing choices. We compare the results obtained upon the employment of two processing pipelines: non-local means filtering followed by watershed segmentation; segmentation by a manually trained random forest classifier. Single-phase flow permeability, in situ contact angle measurements and mineral-to-pore total surface area are the most sensitive properties, as a result of the sensitivity to processing of the phase boundary identification task. Porosity, interfacial fluid–fluid curvature and specific mineral descriptors are robust to processing. The sensitivity of the property estimates increases with the complexity of its definition and its relationship to boundary shape.

Publication date: 
Saturday, December 7, 2019