Quantitative analysis of flow processes in a sand using synchrotron-based X-ray microtomography

Dorthe Wildenschild, J.W. Hopmans, M.L. Rivers, A.J.R. Kent

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Pore-scale multiphase flow experiments were developed to nondestructively visualize water flow in a sample of porous material using X-ray microtomography. The samples were exposed to similar boundary conditions as in a previous investigation, which examined the effect of initial flow rate on observed dynamic effects in the measured pressure-saturation curves; a significantly higher residual and higher capillary pressures were found when the sample was drained fast using a high air-phase pressure. Prior work applying the X-ray microtomography technique to pore-scale multiphase flow problems has been of a mostly qualitative nature and no experiments have been presented in the existing literature where a truly quantitative approach to investigating the multiphase flow process has been taken, including a thorough image-processing scheme. The tomographic images presented here show, both by qualitative comparison and quantitative analysis in the form of a nearest neighbor analysis, that the dynamic effects seen in previous experiments are likely due to the fast and preferential drainage of large pores in the sample. Once a continuous drained path has been established through the sample, further drainage of the remaining pores, which have been disconnected from the main flowing water continuum, is prevented.
Original languageEnglish
JournalVadose Zone Journal
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)112-126
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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