Dr Christopher Leonardi conducts his research in partnership with the UQ Centre for Natural Gas and the Centre for Energy Futures, where the latter is housed within the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering. He leads a team of approximately 15 researchers, comprised of postdoctoral research fellows, PhD and MPhil candidates, and Honours thesis students.
Dr Leonardi's team has formed a number of collaborative research partnerships within UQ (Mechanical and Mining Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Centre for Natural Gas), within Australia (University of New South Wales, Deakin University), and worldwide (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, University of Alberta, Friedrich Alexander University, Swansea University, University of Tehran). The group is well connected to industry, with current partners including Shell, BHP, Origin Energy, Arrow Energy, and Santos.
Dr Leonardi's expertise focuses on the computational modelling of complex fluid-solid interaction problems for oil and gas production, which is of direct relevance to this research. His research publications in this area includes Q1 outlets such as the Physics of Fluids, the International Journal of Multiphase Flow, the International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering, and Computers and Mathematics with Applications.
The aim of this project is to develop, implement, and apply large-scale computational models of hydraulic fracturing in coal seams to predict the improvement in reservoir permeability. Hydraulic fracturing is used to enhance the productivity of unconventional courses of hydrocarbons (e.g. coal seams, shale formations). In coals, this process is complicated by the interaction of induced fractures with the natural fracture network, which makes most industry standard tools for designing and predicting hydraulic fractures inadequate. A better understanding of fracture behaviour in coals will facilitate improved stimulation plan designs. This project will focus on computational models. It will use the finite element-discrete element method to capture the geomechanical response of the relevant geological units. A background porous media flow solver, which is coupled to the FEM-DEM code, will represent the flow of fluid in the fractures and matrix. History matching and or steering of the developed model(s) using diagnostic fracture injection test (DFIT) data, or similar, will also be performed. This project will use commercial and open-source computer codes, which will be deployed on compute facilities housed within the Faculty and at national facilities.