Controlling capillary fingering using pore size gradients in disordered media

Nancy B. Lu, Christopher A. Browne, Daniel B. Amchin, Janine K. Nunes, Sujit S. Datta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Capillary fingering is a displacement process that can occur when a nonwetting fluid displaces a wetting fluid from a homogeneous disordered porous medium. Here, we investigate how this process is influenced by a pore size gradient. Using microfluidic experiments and computational pore-network models, we show that the nonwetting fluid displacement behavior depends sensitively on the direction and the magnitude of the gradient. The fluid displacement depends on the competition between a pore size gradient and pore-scale disorder; indeed, a sufficiently large gradient can completely suppress capillary fingering. By analyzing capillary forces at the pore scale, we identify a nondimensional parameter that describes the physics underlying these diverse flow behaviors. Our results thus expand the understanding of flow in complex porous media and suggest a new way to control flow behavior via the introduction of pore size gradients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number084303
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Volume4
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 21 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes

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