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

4 Citations (Scopus)
5 Downloads (Pure)


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 CO 2 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
Early online date26 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Advances in Water Resources. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Advances in Water Resources, [128], (2019) DOI: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2019.04.015

© 2019, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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