Pore-network modeling of flow in shale nanopores: Network structure, flow principles, and computational algorithms

Ronghao Cui, S. Majid Hassanizadeh, Shuyu Sun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Hydrocarbons in subsurface nanoporous media, such as shale, are promising energy resources to compensate for the shortage of conventional reservoirs. Pore-network modeling serves as a valuable tool for simulating microscale fluid transport and elucidating flow physics in porous media. However, traditional pore-network models have failed to capture features of spatial structure and fluid flow in unconventional shale rock. This work presents a critical review of pore-network modeling of single-phase and two-phase flow in shale rock. Pore-network modeling advances of shale are reviewed based on three major parts: network morphology and geometries, flow principles in nanocapillaries, and pore-network computational algorithms. First, based on key geological features of shale rock, we analyze network topology, multiscale network, pore geometries, and network representativeness of shale pore-network models. Then, we discuss four important aspects that may influence flow principles of fluids in nanocapillaries: gas and liquid slippage, sorption and diffusion behavior, hydrocarbon thermodynamics, and the presence of water. Finally, we present pore-network modeling methods used for flow simulations in shale rock, including quasi-static and dynamic algorithms. We hope that this review could shed light on fundamentals of pore-network modeling of shale rock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104203
JournalEarth-Science Reviews
StatePublished - Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Flow theory
  • Nanoporous media
  • Pore-network modeling
  • Shale rock
  • Thermodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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