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 Citations (Scopus)
    88 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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