Immiscible fluid displacement in porous media with spatially correlated particle sizes

Borgman, O., Darwent, T. ORCID: 0000-0002-0021-504X, Segre, E., Goehring, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-3858-7295 and Holtzman, R., 2019. Immiscible fluid displacement in porous media with spatially correlated particle sizes. Advances in Water Resources, 128, pp. 158-167. ISSN 0309-1708

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Immiscible fluid displacement in porous media is fundamental for many environmental processes, including infiltration of water in soils, groundwater remediation, enhanced recovery of hydrocarbons and CO2 geosequestration. Microstructural heterogeneity, in particular of particle sizes, can significantly impact immiscible displacement. For instance, it may lead to unstable flow and preferential displacement patterns. We present a systematic, quantitative pore-scale study of the impact of spatial correlations in particle sizes on the drainage of a partially-wetting fluid. We perform pore-network simulations with varying flow rates and different degrees of spatial correlation, complemented with microfluidic experiments. Simulated and experimental displacement patterns show that spatial correlation leads to more preferential invasion, with reduced trapping of the defending fluid, especially at low flow rates. Numerically, we find that increasing the correlation length reduces the fluid-fluid interfacial area and the trapping of the defending fluid, and increases the invasion pattern asymmetry and selectivity. Our experiments, conducted for low capillary numbers, support these findings. Our results delineate the significant effect of spatial correlations on fluid displacement in porous media, of relevance to a wide range of natural and engineered processes.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Advances in Water Resources
Creators: Borgman, O., Darwent, T., Segre, E., Goehring, L. and Holtzman, R.
Publisher: Elsevier Ltd.
Date: June 2019
Volume: 128
ISSN: 0309-1708
S030917081930106XPublisher Item Identifier
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 29 Apr 2019 15:01
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2019 07:38

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