Pore-scale Modelling of Gravity-driven Drainage in Disordered Porous Media

Research paper by Guanzhe Cui, Mingchao Liu, Weijing Dai, Yixiang Gan

Indexed on: 29 Oct '18Published on: 29 Oct '18Published in: arXiv - Physics - Soft Condensed Matter


Multiphase flow through a porous medium involves complex interactions between gravity, wettability and capillarity during drainage process. In contrast to these factors, the effect of pore distribution on liquid retention is less understood. In particular, the quantitative correlation between the fluid displacement and level of disorder has not yet been established. In this work, we employ direct numerical simulation by solving the Navier-Stokes equations and using volume of fluid method to track the liquid-liquid interface during drainage in disordered porous media. The disorder of pore configuration is characterized by an improved index to capture small microstructural perturbation, which is pivotal for fluid displacement in porous media. Then, we focus on the residual volume and morphological characteristics of saturated zones after drainage and compare the effect of disorder under different wettability (i.e., the contact angle) and gravity (characterized by a modified Bond number) conditions. Pore-scale simulations reveal that the highly-disordered porous medium is favourable to improve liquid retention and provide various morphologies of entrapped saturated zones. Furthermore, the disorder index has a positive correlation to the characteristic curve index (n) in van Genuchten equation, controlling the shape of the retention characteristic curves. It is expected that the findings will benefit to a broad range of industrial applications involving drainage processes in porous media, e.g., drying, carbon sequestration, and underground water remediation.