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Comptes Rendus. Physique
Statistical physics and applied geosciences: some results and perspectives
Comptes Rendus. Physique, Volume 21 (2020) no. 6, pp. 539-560.

Part of the special issue: Prizes of the French Academy of Sciences 2019 (continued)

In this paper, some applications of statistical physics (SP) concepts and techniques in applied geosciences are reviewed. The domain includes hydrology, oil and gas industry, nuclear or CO 2 waste geological disposal, massive energy storage, heat recovery from geothermal formations and many other applications. Several scales are considered: we start from applications of SP at the molecular scale to understand the effect of extreme confinements concerning the fluid transport in nanopores in clay rocks. The paper ends with coarse graining techniques that are employed to build operational models relevant at the practical scale of several kilometers, including strongly fractured geological environments. Perspectives are proposed regarding some issues about the practical use of these often over-parameterized models in connection to random matrix and graph theories and the associated quenched disorder problems and “big data” issues.

Dans cette note, nous examinons quelques applications des concepts et outils de la physique statistique (PS) aux géosciences appliquées. Les applications vont de l’hydrologie au stockage de déchets nucléaires ou de CO 2 , au stockage massif d’énergie, en passant par l’industrie pétrolière ou gazière, et enfin les applications géothermiques. Vu la complexité intrinsèque des applications de terrain, les ingénieurs s’attachent en général à optimiser un critère économique, tout en veillant à maintenir la meilleure sécurité et en minimisant l’empreinte environnementale des projets. Il s’agit donc d’employer les connaissances les plus actuelles sur les transferts en milieu poreux. On s’intéresse à différentes échelles, des applications de la PS pour formuler les lois de transport dans des milieux extrêmement confinés tels des nanopores constituant la porosité des argiles. Ensuite, on présente les applications de la PS pour modéliser les écoulements à des échelles kilométriques intéressant les ingénieurs en charge d’application. On est dans une situation typique de désordre gelé, hors d’équilibre où les temps de relaxation peuvent être très longs, de l’ordre de plusieurs siècles. Des perspectives sont proposées pour utiliser des outils issus de la théorie des matrices aléatoires afin de faciliter l’utilisation pratique en “aide à la décision” de ces modèles bien souvent sur-paramétrés par des données elles-mêmes incertaines.

Published online:
DOI: 10.5802/crphys.40
Keywords: Statistical physics, Applied geosciences, Porous media, Disorder, Nanopores, Upscaling, Quenched disorder
Benoît Noetinger 1

1 IFP Energies Nouvelles, France
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Benoît Noetinger. Statistical physics and applied geosciences: some results and perspectives. Comptes Rendus. Physique, Volume 21 (2020) no. 6, pp. 539-560. doi : 10.5802/crphys.40. https://comptes-rendus.academie-sciences.fr/physique/articles/10.5802/crphys.40/

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