Immiscible fluid displacement in porous media with spatially correlated particle sizes

Oshri Borgman, Thomas Darwent, Enrico Segre, Lucas Goehring, Ran Holtzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-167
Number of pages10
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Volume128
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Heterogeneity
  • Immiscible displacement
  • Microfluidic experiments
  • Pore-scale model
  • Porous media
  • Spatial correlation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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