Segmentation of X-ray computed tomography images of porous materials: A crucial step for characterization and quantitative analysis of pore structures

Pavel Iassonov, Thomas Gebrenegus, Markus Tuller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

274 Scopus citations

Abstract

Nondestructive imaging methods such as X-ray computed tomography (CT) yield high-resolution, three-dimensional representations of pore space and fluid distribution within porous materials. Steadily increasing computational capabilities and easier access to X-ray CT facilities have contributed to a recent surge in microporous media research with objectives ranging from theoretical aspects of fluid and interfacial dynamics at the pore scale to practical applications such as dense nonaqueous phase liquid transport and dissolution. In recent years, significant efforts and resources have been devoted to improve CT technology, microscale analysis, and fluid dynamics simulations. However, the development of adequate image segmentation methods for conversion of gray scale CT volumes into a discrete form that permits quantitative characterization of pore space features and subsequent modeling of liquid distribution and flow processes seems to lag. In this paper we investigated the applicability of various thresholding and locally adaptive segmentation techniques for industrial and synchrotron X-ray CT images of natural and artificial porous media. A comparison between directly measured and image-derived porosities clearly demonstrates that the application of different segmentation methods as well as associated operator biases yield vastly differing results. This illustrates the importance of the segmentation step for quantitative pore space analysis and fluid dynamics modeling. Only a few of the tested methods showed promise for both industrial and synchrotron tomography. Utilization of local image information such as spatial correlation as well as the application of locally adaptive techniques yielded significantly better results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberW09415
JournalWater Resources Research
Volume45
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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