Characterization of the micro-scale surface roughness effect on immiscible fluids and interfacial areas in porous media using the measurements of interfacial partitioning tracer tests

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Abstract

This study presents a model-based methodology to characterize the surface roughness effect on immiscible fluids in porous media using the measurements obtained with the gas-phase interfacial partitioning tracer test (IPTT). The characterization approach captures how adsorbed wetting film configuration on grain surfaces influences fluid-fluid interfaces in unsaturated porous media. The method establishes a novel representation of surface and interface roughness that delineates the micro-scale fractal nature of grain surfaces and the fluid-surface interactions at these scales. The method was tested using reported experimental data for several soils. The results showed that the methodology was effective for natural porous media comprising a range of physical and geochemical properties. Comparisons between characterized parameters of different media revealed that micro-scale surface roughness was only partially correlated to soil texture properties. Images of the test media obtained with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) illustrates the complexity of micro-scale surface roughness, and its variability among different media. Tests with an organic liquid–water system validated the generalness of surface roughness properties generated by the model. The proposed methodology is anticipated to provide a means to characterize and quantify the effects of surface roughness on fluid-solid interaction and fluid-fluid interfacial area, which are critical to various environmental disciplines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103789
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Volume146
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • And capillarity
  • Interfacial area
  • Surface roughness
  • Water adsorption
  • Wetting film

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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