Engineering professor receives rock mechanics dissertation award

June 28, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Brandon Schwartz, assistant research professor in the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering, recently received the Dr. N.G.W. Cook Ph.D. Dissertation Award from the American Rock Mechanics Association (ARMA). The award recognizes an outstanding doctoral dissertation in rock mechanics or rock engineering.

Schwartz, who graduated with his doctoral degree in energy and mineral engineering in 2018 from Penn State, received the award for his dissertation, which explores how differences in shale rock pore structure affect permeability and the capacity of shale rock to seal fluids.

“I am honored to receive the award, ” said Schwartz. “It is a thrill to be recognized and know my research can contribute to a more sustainable future.”

Schwartz was recognized virtually at the 2021 ARMA Annual Conference & Texas 2021 Technical Program on June 25. Schwartz was also inducted into ARMA’s 2021 class of Future Leaders on June 23.

Schwartz explained that as shale rock experiences changing subsurface stresses the mineralogy, mineral distribution and pore geometry within the rock all impact how a fluid flows throughout the pore structure. A better understanding of this permeability evolution will help assure that fluids remain secure when shale acts as the sealing caprock for a geologic carbon sequestration reservoir. Additionally, a richer understanding of changing transport properties can lead to discoveries that enhance permeability, which will add value to carbon sequestration and production projects.

“While we understand some of the mechanisms that tie changing mechanical and transport properties to each other, it is also an emerging area of research,” said Schwartz, whose expertise is in experimental geomechanics and dynamic rock physics modeling. “My proposal to focus on changes in the pore network under deformation will improve our comprehension of that relationship and test if permeability can be enhanced.”

According to Schwartz, understanding the dynamics of how shale changes during natural and industrial processes has broad applications, such as mitigating climate change using carbon sequestrate and improving the capacity of nuclear waste storage, geologic waste disposal, and hydrogen storage.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 28, 2021