Synchrotron radiation measurement of multiphase fluid saturations in porous media: Experimental technique and error analysis

David M. Tuck, Barnes R. Bierck, Peter R. Jaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Multiphase flow in porous media is an important research topic. In situ, nondestructive experimental methods for studying multiphase flow are important for improving our understanding and the theory. Rapid changes in fluid saturation, characteristic of immiscible displacement, are difficult to measure accurately using gamma rays due to practical restrictions on source strength. Our objective is to describe a synchrotron radiation technique for rapid, nondestructive saturation measurements of multiple fluids in porous media, and to present a precision and accuracy analysis of the technique. Synchrotron radiation provides a high intensity, inherently collimated photon beam of tunable energy which can yield accurate measurements of fluid saturation in just one second. Measurements were obtained with precision of ± 0.01 or better for tetrachloroethylene (PCE) in a 2.5 cm thick glass-bead porous medium using a counting time of 1 s. The normal distribution was shown to provide acceptable confidence limits for PCE saturation changes. Sources of error include heat load on the monochromator, periodic movement of the source beam, and errors in stepping-motor positioning system. Hypodermic needles pushed into the medium to inject PCE changed porosity in a region approximately ±1 mm of the injection point. Improved mass balance between the known and measured PCE injection volumes was obtained when appropriate corrections were applied to calibration values near the injection point.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-256
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


  • Fluid saturation
  • Immiscible displacement
  • Nondestructive measurement
  • Synchrotron
  • X-rays


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