Porous Media Simulations Two-Phase Flow

Numerical solutions of a generalized theory for macroscopic capillarity

F. Doster, P. Zegeling, R. Hilfer

Physical Review E 81, 036307 (2010)

submitted on
Thursday, March 12, 2009

A recent macroscopic theory of biphasic flow in porous media [R. Hilfer, Phys. Rev. E 73, 016307 (2006)] has proposed to treat microscopically percolating fluid regions differently from microscopically nonpercolating regions. Even in one dimension the theory reduces to an analytically intractable set of ten coupled nonlinear partial differential equations. This paper reports numerical solutions for three different initial and boundary value problems that simulate realistic laboratory experiments. All three simulations concern a closed column containing a homogeneous porous medium filled with two immiscible fluids of different densities. In the first simulation the column is raised from a horizontal to a vertical orientation inducing a buoyancy-driven fluid flow that separates the two fluids. In the second simulation the column is first raised from a horizontal to a vertical orientation and subsequently rotated twice by 180° to compare the resulting stationary saturation profiles. In the third simulation the column is first raised from horizontal to vertical orientation and then returned to its original horizontal orientation. In all three simulations imbibition and drainage processes occur simultaneously inside the column. This distinguishes the results reported here from conventional simulations based on existing theories of biphasic flows. Existing theories are unable to predict flow processes where imbibition and drainage occur simultaneously. The approximate numerical results presented here show the same process dependence and hysteresis as one would expect from an experiment.

For more information see