ETH Conf-Perm - High pressure hydrostatic flow cell

Facility Location
City & country
Zürich (Switzerland)
Rämistrasse 101, 8006
Description & contacts of the access provider
Legal name of organisation
ETH-Z - Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich
Infrastructure contact - Primary contact
Claudio Madonna
RICC contact - Secondary contact
Alba Zappone
Facility Availability
Unit of access
Availability per year
Minimum 1 month
Expected duration of single experiment:
1 month

The setup is designed to measure permeability (gas or fluids, or supercritical fluids) of samples and in the same time to record ultrasound wave propagation within the sample. The measurements are performed at confining pressure up to 200 bar and temperature up to 100°C.

The heart of the setup is a hydrostatic cell, designed to accommodate cylindrical samples of 2.54 cm in diameter and up to 3 cm in length. The sample is placed between two stainless steel discs with interconnected circular grooves that are connected to two reservoirs: the upstream reservoir, which can be pressurized with the gas/fluid to be injected, and the downstream reservoir used to collect the gas, which leaves the sample (Figure 1). The transient step method is used to carry out the flow experiments. Sample holders contain piezoelectric transducers emitting/receiving ultrasonic waves (0.5 MHz frequency, compression and Share modes). Measuring the time of flight of the waves and knowing the length of the sample it is possible to calculate P and S wave velocities.

Schema of the hydrostatic permeability rig modified for ultrasound waves measurements
State of the art, uniqueness, & specific advantages

The rig presents at least three technical advantages, compared to standard parameters:

  • Working conditions: fluid pressure up to 100 bar, confining pressure up to 200 bar, fluid temperature up to 90°C, confining cell temperature up to 100°C, allow the samples to be placed at reservoir conditions and simulate in a quite flexible way various conditions.
  • Sample size: the sample dimensions (diameter = 2.54 cm, length up to 3 cm) allow many other measurements of physical parameters on the same sample. The dimension allows porosity of various nature (macro-pores, fractures, matrix porosity) to be considered.
  • The transient step method: This technique has been used to measure the permeability of rocks, in particular of low permeability rocks, due to the advantage of measuring pressures instead of flow rates in a highpressure experiment.

Recent modifications of the permeability rig enable permeability measurements and acoustic velocity measurements simultaneously. Variable pore pressures, confining pressures and temperatures are applied to the sample while ultrasonic waves travelling through the samples are recorded.

Scientific Environment

In the same laboratory together with the permeability rig, we have the possibility to measure a wide variety of physical parameters, such as density, porosity, failure under compression and tension conditions. All parameters can be measured under high confining pressure and temperature. Analytical facilities such optical and electron microscopy, XRD & XRF are easily accessible. The current users at ETH have obtained many scientific achievements based on the services offered by the infrastructures, including EU projects, National projects, and many scientific peer reviewed papers.


Other Large Initiatives
Other Large Initiatives

selected publications

Pini R., Ottiger S., Burlini. L., Storti G. & Mazzotti M (2009)
CO2 storage through ECBM recovery: An experimental and modeling study
Energy Procedia, vol. 1, pp. 1711-1717. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.egypro.2009.01.224
Pini R., Ottiger S., Burlini. L., Storti G. & Mazzotti M. (2009)
Role of adsorption and swelling on the dynamics of gas injection in coal
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, vol. 114 (B4), http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2008JB005961