School of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering


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Our petroleum research is headed by our Reservoir Engineering Group, and covers the storage, recovery and transportation of oil, gas and coal.

Reservoir Engineering Group

The Reservoir Engineering Group (REG) has established their reputation with a unique research program: Coupled Multiphysics in Geomaterials – Active Experimentation, Real-time Imaging and Modelling.

To support this research program, the group has developed a numerical laboratory with modeling capabilities from single-phase flow to enhanced oil recovery to coupled multiphysics. This numerical lab has become the platform for students at different levels to work on a wide range of scientific issues strategically important for the petroleum industry.


The Reservoir Engineering Group works in collaboration with:

  • The Centre for Petroleum Geoscience
  • CSIRO Petroleum Resources
  • Curtin University of Technology
  • Penn State University
  • China University of Mining and Technology
  • Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

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Research activities

CO2 sequestration in coal

CO2-enhanced coal-bed methane (CO2-ECBM) production involves the injection of CO2 into a coal seam to promote the desorption of coalbed methane (CBM) while simultaneously sequestering CO2 in the coal seam.  How to quantify complex interactions of stress and chemistry and their impact on the sequestration capacity are the research focus.

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Enhanced oil and gas recovery

While the amount of conventional oil deemed recoverable is declining, there are vast amounts of in-lace hydrocarbons—about two-thirds—that are left behind after currently available primary, secondary and tertiary recovery methods are utilized. A 10 percentage point incremental recovery increase translates to about 1.4 trillion bbl of reserves, which would supply global crude consumption at current rates for about 50 years. This could be achieved through a number of enhanced oil & gas recovery techniques.  Our current research focuses are on microbial EOR and chemical flooding.

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Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) sloshing in tanks

Current regulations in Australia which govern the transportation of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) using tankers are relaxed, permitting partially filled tanks to play at sea and cause sloshing loads. These loads become a substantial problem in harsh sea states where conditions cause the tankers to become susceptible to damage from impact pressure due to the LNG sloshing and wave slamming.

By investigating the physics of liquid sloshing in marine tanks and the importance of two-phase and three dimensional effects during sloshing we aim to find answers that will allow us to develop ways to improve the storage of LNG and transportation design, ensuring the safe operation and transportation of the gas.

Our research uses new laser-based flow visualization techniques to study liquid sloshing in a tank situated on a hexapod and assess the influence of various parameters on sloshing over a range of values.

Detailed numerical investigation using Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) techniques will also be carried out using Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics and level set methods.

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Digital multiphysics characteriser

This research is centred on the development, verification, and application of Digital Multiphysics Characteriser (DMC) through active experimentation, real-time imaging and modelling.

The primary objective of this program is to address the common scientific issues for a host of reservoir engineering phenomena, including enhanced oil recovery, CO2 geological sequestration and wellbore stability.

The research is currently supported by WA:ERA, National Flagship Wealth from Ocean and NIOSH (US) and includes:

  • Modelling of multiphysics in a deformable porous medium
  • Real-time imaging of geomaterials
  • Simulation of EOR Processes 
  • Gas flow and transport in a deformable porous medium 
  • Shale (coal) and CO2 interactions

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Last updated:
Monday, 1 February, 2016 11:03 AM