Pore-Scale Dynamics of Liquid CO2–Water Displacement in 2D Axisymmetric Porous Micromodels Under Strong Drainage and Weak Imbibition Conditions: High-Speed μPIV Measurements
Molla, Razin S.
Christensen, Kenneth T.
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Resolving pore-scale transient flow dynamics is crucial to understanding the physics underlying multiphase flow in porous media and informing large-scale predictive models. Surface properties of the porous matrix play an important role in controlling such physics, yet interfacial mechanisms remain poorly understood, in part due to a lack of direct observations. This study reports on an experimental investigation of the pore-scale flow dynamics of liquid CO2 and water in two-dimensional (2D) circular porous micromodels with different surface characteristics employing high-speed microscopic particle image velocimetry (μPIV). The design of the micromodel minimized side boundary effects due to the limited size of the domain. The high-speed μPIV technique resolved the spatial and temporal dynamics of multiphase flow of CO2 and water under reservoir-relevant conditions, for both drainage and imbibition scenarios. When CO2 displaced water in a hydrophilic micromodel (i.e., drainage), unstable capillary fingering occurred and the pore flow was dominated by successive pore-scale burst events (i.e., Haines jumps). When the same experiment was repeated in a nearly neutral wetting micromodel (i.e., weak imbibition), flow instability and fluctuations were virtually eliminated, leading to a more compact displacement pattern. Energy balance analysis indicates that the conversion efficiency between surface energy and external work is less than 30%, and that kinetic energy is a disproportionately smaller contributor to the energy budget. This is true even during a Haines jump event, which induces velocities typically two orders of magnitude higher than the bulk velocity. These novel measurements further enabled direct observations of the meniscus displacement, revealing a significant alteration of the pore filling mechanisms during drainage and imbibition. While the former typically featured burst events, which often occur only at one of the several throats connecting a pore, the latter is typically dominated by a cooperative filling mechanism involving simultaneous invasion of a pore from multiple throats. This cooperative filling mechanism leads to merging of two interfaces and releases surface energy, causing instantaneous high-speed events that are similar, yet fundamentally different from, burst events. Finally, pore-scale velocity fields were statistically analyzed to provide a quantitative measure of the role of capillary effects in these pore flows.
Li Y, Blois G, Kazemifar F, Molla RS and Christensen KT (2021) Pore-Scale Dynamics of Liquid CO2–Water Displacement in 2D Axisymmetric Porous Micromodels Under Strong Drainage and Weak Imbibition Conditions: High-Speed μPIV Measurements. Front. Water 3:710370. doi: 10.3389/frwa.2021.710370