At the pore scale, slow invasion of a wetting fluid in porous materials is often modeled with quasi-static approximations which only consider capillary forces in the form of simple pore-filling rules. The appropriateness of this approximation, often applied in pore network models, is contested in the literature, reflecting the difficulty of predicting imbibition relative permeability with these models. However, validation by sole comparison to continuum-scale experiments is prone to induce model overfitting. It has therefore remained unclear whether difficulties generalizing the model performance are caused by errors in the predicted filling sequence or by subsequent calculations. Here, we address this by examining whether such a model can predict the pore-scale fluid distributions underlying the behavior at the continuum scale. To this end, we compare the fluid arrangement evolution measured in fast synchrotron micro-CT experiments on two rock types to quasi-static simulations which implement capillary-dominated pore filling and snap-off, including a sophisticated model for cooperative pore filling. The results indicate that such pore network models can, in principle, predict fluid distributions accurately enough to estimate upscaled flow properties of strongly wetted rocks at low capillary numbers.
|Journal||Water Resources Research|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jun 2020|
- multi-phase flow
- pore network modeling
- porous media
- synchrotron imaging