Linking pressure and saturation through interfacial areas in porous media
Geophysical Research Letters 31,8 (2004) -;
Using transparent microfluidic cells to study the two-phase properties of a synthetic porous medium, we establish that the interfacial area per volume between nonwetting and wetting fluids lifts the ambiguity associated with the hysteretic relationship between capillary pressure and saturation in porous media. The interface between the nonwetting and wetting phases is composed of two subsets: one with a unique curvature determined by the capillary pressure, and the other with a distribution of curvatures dominated by disjoining pressure. This work provides experimental support for recent theoretical predictions that the capillary-dominated subset plays a role analogous to a state variable. Any comprehensive description of multiphase flow properties must include this interfacial area with the traditional variables of pressure and fluid saturation.
capillary-pressure;; multiphase flow;; mechanics
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