Porous Media Two-Phase Flow

Dimensional Analysis of Two-phase Flow Including a Rate-dependent Capillary Pressure-Saturation Relationship

S. Manthey, M. Hassanizadeh, R. Helmig, R. Hilfer

Advances in Water Resources 31, 1137 (2008)

submitted on
Thursday, March 15, 2007

The macroscopic modelling of two-phase flow processes in subsurface hydrosystems or industrial applications on the Darcy scale usu ally requires a constitutive relationship between capillary pressure and saturation, the Pc(Sw) relationship. Traditionally, it is assumed that a unique relation between Pc and Sw exists independently of the flow conditions as long as hysteretic effects can be neglected. Recently, this assumption has been questioned and alternative formulations have been suggested. For example, the extended Pc(Sw) relationship by Hassanizadeh and Gray [Hassanizadeh SM, Gray WG. Mechanics and thermodynamics of multiphase flow in porous media including interphase boundaries. Adv Water Resources 1990;13(4):169–86] proposes that the difference between the phase pressures to the equilibrium capillary pressure is a linear function of the rate of change of saturation, thereby introducing a constant of proportionality, the coefficient s. It is desirable to identify cases where the extended relationship needs to be considered. Consequently, a dimensional analysis is performed on the basis of the two-phase balance equations. In addition to the well-known capillary and gravitational number, the dimensional analysis yields a new dimensionless number. The dynamic number Dy quantifies the ratio of dynamic capillary to viscous forces. Relating the dynamic to the capillary as well as the gravitational number gives the new numbers DyC and DyG, respectively. For given sets of fluid and porous medium parameters, the dimensionless numbers Dy and DyC are interpreted as functions of the characteristic length and flow velocity. The simulation of an imbibition process provides insight into the interpretation of the characteristic length scale. The most promising choice for this length scale seems to be the front width. We conclude that consideration of the extended Pc(Sw) relationship may be important for porous media with high permeability, small entry pressure and high coefficient s when systems with a small characteristic length (e.g. steep front) and small characteristic time scale are under investigation.

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