Asymmetric invasion in anisotropic porous media

D. Maggiolo (Corresponding author), F. Picano, Federico Toschi

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We report and discuss, by means of pore-scale numerical simulations, the possibility of achieving a directional-dependent two-phase flow behaviour during the process of invasion of a viscous fluid into anisotropic porous media with controlled design. By customising the pore-scale morphology and heterogeneities with the adoption of anisotropic triangular pillars distributed with quenched disorder, we observe a substantially different invasion dynamics according to the direction of fluid injection relative to the medium orientation, that is depending if the triangular pillars have their apex oriented (flow-aligned) or opposed (flow-opposing) to the main flow direction. Three flow regimes can be observed: (i) for low values of the ratio between the macroscopic pressure drop and the characteristic pore-scale capillary threshold, i.e. for p0/pc, the fluid invasion dynamics is strongly impeded and the viscous fluid is unable to reach the outlet of the medium, irrespective of the direction of injection; (ii) for intermediate values, 1lessthanp0/pc, the viscous fluid reaches the outlet only when the triangular pillars are flow-opposing oriented; (iii) for larger values, i.e for Δp0/pcgreaterthan2, the outlet is again reached irrespective of the direction of injection. The porous medium anisotropy induces a lower effective resistance when the pillars are flow-opposing oriented, suppressing front roughening and capillary fingering. We thus argue that the invasion process occurs as long as the pressure drop is larger then the macroscopic capillary pressure determined by the front roughness, which in the case of flow-opposing pillars is halved. We present a simple approximated model, based on Darcy’s assumptions, that links the macroscopic effective permeability with the directional-dependent front roughening , to predict the asymmetric invasion dynamics. This peculiar behaviour opens up the possibility of fabrication of porous capillary valves to control the flow along certain specific directions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number045103
Number of pages12
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2021


FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
Svenska Forskningsrådet Formas2019-01261
Horizon 2020790744


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