Fluid-fluid interfacial area for porous media systems can be measured with the aqueous phase interfacial partitioning tracer test (IPTT) method or with high-resolution microtomography. The results of prior studies have shown that interfacial areas measured with the IPTT method are larger than values measured with microtomography. The observed disparity has been hypothesized to result from the impact of porous medium surface roughness on film-associated interfacial area, wherein the influence of surface roughness is characterized to some extent by the IPTT method but not by microtomography due to resolution constraints. This hypothesis was tested by using the two methods to measure interfacial area between an organic immiscible liquid and water for an ideal glass beads medium that has no measurable surface roughness. The tracer tests yielded a mean interfacial area of 2.8 (5 cm-1), while microtomography produced an interfacial area of 2.7 (2 cm-1). Maximum specific interfacial areas, equivalent to areas normalized by nonwetting fluid volume, were calculated and compared to measures of the specific solid surface area. The normalized interfacial areas were similar to the specific solid surface area calculated using the smooth sphere assumption and to the specific solid surface area measured using the N2/Brunauer, Emmett, and Teller (BET) method. The results presented herein indicate that both the IPTT and microtomography methods provide robust characterization of fluid-fluid interfacial area and that they are comparable in the absence of the impact of surface roughness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology