AbstractPotassium-bearing shale is being developed as a potential alternative to potash for use in fertilisers. The first step in this process is to reduce its particle size by crushing. This paper explores whether roasting pre-cracked potassium-bearing shale can improve the quality of the resulting ultrafine product. Analysis of the particle size distribution of the ultrafine product and its fractal dimension found contradictory results: the minimum particle size distribution was obtained by roasting for 2.5 h, while the minimum fractal dimension was obtained by roasting for 1 h. Fuzzy comprehensive evaluation was conducted with three indicators—(1) the weight of the − 10 μm product, (2) the fractal dimension of the particle size distribution, and (3) d97—to obtain a unique combination of indicators that reflects the quality and quantity of the products. The weights of the three indicators were calculated by an analytic hierarchical process to be 0.69, 0.149 and 0.161, respectively. Roasting pre-cracked shale for 2–2.5 h was found to improve the mean values of the fuzzy comprehensive evaluation indicators by about 0.07. However, the cost increased from 2.82 RMB to ≥ 10.08 RMB, which is not feasible for widespread industrial implementation.
Lost circulation materials (LCMs) are essential to combat fluid loss while drilling and may put the whole operation at risk if a proper LCM design is not used. The focus of this research is understanding the function of LCMs in sealing fractures to reduce fluid loss. One important consideration in the success of fracture sealing is the particle-size distribution (PSD) of LCMs. Various studies have suggested different guidelines for obtaining the best size distribution of LCMs for effective fracture sealing based on limited laboratory experiments or field observations. Hence, there is a need for sophisticated numerical methods to improve the LCM design by providing some predictive capabilities. In this study, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and discrete element methods (DEM) numerical simulations are coupled to investigate the influence of PSD of granular LCMs on fracture sealing. Dimensionless variables were introduced to compare cases with different PSDs. We validated the CFD-DEM model in reproducing specific laboratory observations of fracture-sealing experiments within the model boundary parameters. Our simulations suggested that a bimodally distributed blend would be the most effective design in comparison to other PSDs tested here.