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Document Type


Publication Title

Frontiers in Water






Resolving pore-scale transient flow dynamics is crucial to understanding the physics underlying multiphase flow in porous media and informing large-scale predictive models. Surface properties of the porous matrix play an important role in controlling such physics, yet interfacial mechanisms remain poorly understood, in part due to a lack of direct observations. This study reports on an experimental investigation of the pore-scale flow dynamics of liquid CO2 and water in two-dimensional (2D) circular porous micromodels with different surface characteristics employing high-speed microscopic particle image velocimetry (μPIV). The design of the micromodel minimized side boundary effects due to the limited size of the domain. The high-speed μPIV technique resolved the spatial and temporal dynamics of multiphase flow of CO2 and water under reservoir-relevant conditions, for both drainage and imbibition scenarios. When CO2 displaced water in a hydrophilic micromodel (i.e., drainage), unstable capillary fingering occurred and the pore flow was dominated by successive pore-scale burst events (i.e., Haines jumps). When the same experiment was repeated in a nearly neutral wetting micromodel (i.e., weak imbibition), flow instability and fluctuations were virtually eliminated, leading to a more compact displacement pattern. Energy balance analysis indicates that the conversion efficiency between surface energy and external work is less than 30%, and that kinetic energy is a disproportionately smaller contributor to the energy budget. This is true even during a Haines jump event, which induces velocities typically two orders of magnitude higher than the bulk velocity. These novel measurements further enabled direct observations of the meniscus displacement, revealing a significant alteration of the pore filling mechanisms during drainage and imbibition. While the former typically featured burst events, which often occur only at one of the several throats connecting a pore, the latter is typically dominated by a cooperative filling mechanism involving simultaneous invasion of a pore from multiple throats. This cooperative filling mechanism leads to merging of two interfaces and releases surface energy, causing instantaneous high-speed events that are similar, yet fundamentally different from, burst events. Finally, pore-scale velocity fields were statistically analyzed to provide a quantitative measure of the role of capillary effects in these pore flows.

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Science Foundation


drainage, imbibition, micromodel, multiphase flow, particle image velocimetry, pore scale, porous media, wettability

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Mechanical Engineering