Porous Media Two-Phase Flow

Macroscopic capillarity without a constitutive capillary pressure function

R. Hilfer

Physica A 371, 209 (2006)

submitted on
Friday, January 20, 2006

This paper challenges the foundations of the macroscopic capillary pressure concept. The capillary pressure function, as it is traditionally assumed in the constitutive theory of two-phase immiscible displacement in porous media, relates the pressure difference between nonwetting and wetting fluid to the saturation of the wetting fluid. The traditional capillary pressure function neglects the fundamental difference between percolating and nonpercolating fluid regions as first emphasized in R. Hilfer [Macroscopic equations of motion for two phase flow in porous media, Phys. Rev. E 58 (1998) 2090]. The theoretical approach proposed here starts from residual saturations as the volume fractions of nonpercolating phases. The resulting equations of motion open the possibility to describe flow processes where drainage and imbibition occur simultaneously. The theory predicts hysteresis and process dependence of capillary phenomena. The traditional theory is recovered as a special case in the residual decoupling approximation. Explicit calculations are presented for quasistatic equilibrium profiles near hydrostatic equilibrium. The results are found to agree with experiment. r 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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