Shravan Hanasoge, Umang Agarwal, Kunj Tandon, and J. M. Vianney A. Koelman. Renormalization group theory outperforms other approaches in statistical comparison between upscaling techniques for porous media. Phys. Rev. E 96, 033313 (2017).
Abstract. Determining the pressure differential required to achieve a desired flow rate in a porous medium requires solving Darcy's law, a Laplace-like equation, with a spatially varying tensor permeability. In various scenarios, the permeability coefficient is sampled at high spatial resolution, which makes solving Darcy's equation numerically prohibitively expensive. As a consequence, much effort has gone into creating upscaled or low-resolution effective models of the coefficient while ensuring that the estimated flow rate is well reproduced, bringing to the fore the classic tradeoff between computational cost and numerical accuracy. Here we perform a statistical study to characterize the relative success of upscaling methods on a large sample of permeability coefficients that are above the percolation threshold. We introduce a technique based on mode-elimination renormalization group theory (MG) to build coarse-scale permeability coefficients. Comparing the results with coefficients upscaled using other methods, we find that MG is consistently more accurate, particularly due to its ability to address the tensorial nature of the coefficients. MG places a low computational demand, in the manner in which we have implemented it, and accurate flow-rate estimates are obtained when using MG-upscaled permeabilities that approach or are beyond the percolation threshold.