Pore-scale analysis of trapped immiscible fluid structures and fluid interfacial areas in oil-wet and water-wet bead packs

C. J. Landry, Z. T. Karpyn, M. Piri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The objective of this study is to obtain quantitative evidence of pore-scale immiscible fluid distribution in oil-wet and water-wet porous media using X-ray computed microtomography. Temporal and spatial saturation profiles, as well as surface and interfacial areas, are thoroughly analyzed through cycles of drainage and imbibition using samples with different wetting characteristics but similar pore structures. The population of individual immiscible fluid structures ('blobs') was also evaluated. The specific nonwetting phase surface areas of both porous media are found to be in close correlation with the specific solid surface area. On the other hand, the differing wetting strengths of the two porous media affect the curvature of the fluid-fluid interface and thus the specific meniscus interfacial area of the two porous media. Although the magnitude of the specific meniscus interfacial areas is different, they both trend toward a maximum at wetting phase saturations of 0.35-0.55. The differences in wetting characteristics are also apparent in the blob populations. The number of blobs in the oil-wet porous media is three times greater than that of the water-wet porous media at similar saturations; the increase in population is a result of the increase in the amount of smaller blobs inhabiting the smaller pore spaces. The surface areas of individual blobs as a function of the individual blob volumes are found to closely agree with the specific surface area of a sphere at blob volumes below the minimum individual grain volume and with the specific pore space surface area above this volume. These results show how wettability and saturation history influence the distribution of immiscible fluids within the pore space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-227
Number of pages19
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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