Scale-span pore structure heterogeneity of high volatile bituminous coal and anthracite by FIB-SEM and X-ray μ-CT

Qian Li, Dameng Liu, Yidong Cai* (Corresponding Author), Yongkai Qiu, Yingfang Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Visualizing and quantifying the pore structure at the nanomicro scale is critical for understanding the micro fluid transport and enrichment in coalbed methane (CBM) reservoirs. In this work, the detailed micro-nano scale pore parameters such as pore counts, pore area, pore volume and pore size distribution can be acquired by the focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) and X-ray computed microtomography (X-ray μ-CT) techniques. Meanwhile, the pore network model (PNM) was adopted to describe and quantify the pore throat characteristics, which found that the pore throats of the sample LHG well developed and are conducive to seepage. Additionally, the threedimensional fractal dimension (D3) by the box-counting method was used to evaluate the pores spatial heterogeneity. The D3 of sample LHG and sample L-1 are 2.23 and 2.04 (for FIB-SEM with pore size of 10 nm to ~1000 nm), 2.69 and 2.51 (for X-ray μCT with pore size over 500 nm), respectively. The results indicate that the pore network has self-similarity with a secondary development. The variable trends from tens of nanometers to micrometers through the FIB-SEM and X-ray μCT images. For the relationship between porosity and D3, two opposite trends have emerged. The positive correlation trend should be related to the complex pore structure. The more complex the pore structure is, the higher the porosity is. The negative correlation should contribute to a lot of mineral-filled pores. Pores filled with minerals that will increase the proportion of small pores and decrease the porosity, which causes that the spatial complexity of the pore networks is increased, and the D3 is increased. Therefore, this work may provide insights into the gas storage and seepage capabilities of coalbed methane (CBM) reservoirs, and thus will be favorable for enhancing CBM recovery.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103443
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2020


  • coals
  • scale-span pore structure
  • FIB-SEM tomography
  • X-ray
  • μ-CT
  • 3D fractal dimension
  • X-ray μ-CT
  • Coals
  • Scale-span pore structure

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